Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Why Won’t DA Chisholm Charge Gun & Resisting an Officer Case? | No Process Files


Even after two attempts by MPD to present the case to the Milwaukee County DA’s office, no charges have ever been issued in this case.

This is the fifth chapter in Wisconsin Right Now’s new investigative series – the “No Process Files” – exploring the Milwaukee County DA’s high percentage of non prosecuted cases. If you would like us to feature a case from that or another county, email [email protected]. You will remain anonymous.

Milwaukee police thought they had a very strong illegal gun case against Evan M. Harmon. During his arrest, police reports obtained by Wisconsin Right Now through an open records request say, Harmon even made the statement, “All I had was that gun.”

Officers recovered one handgun on the ground after a dangerous fight and foot chase with Harmon, who reached toward his waistband during it, police reports say. The Smith & Wesson handgun had an obliterated serial number and contained 15 unfired rounds including one in the chamber “ready to fire.”  They recovered a second loaded Glock 9mm handgun near a spot he slipped. A photo of the firearms were placed into evidence, as Milwaukee police continued their efforts to crack down on illegal firearm use in a city exploding with gun violence.

Evan m harmon
Recovered smith & wesson. 40 caliber handgun with 15 rounds.

Politicians have been unified in their calls for an end to gun violence in Milwaukee. But – even after two attempts by MPD to present the case to the Milwaukee County DA’s office and 15 months passing – no charges have ever been issued in this case, and it’s not clear why.

Chisholm’s office simply hasn’t charged the case.

That’s despite the fact Harmon has a previous case in which he was accused of pointing a gun at his female relative’s head and head butting the woman because he thought she was cooperating with the police. He was also accused of pointing a gun at a teenage girl and threatening to “bag her” in that past case.

Evan M. Harmon, who had several felony warrants at the time of the uncharged arrest, was referred to the DA for charges that included being a passenger in a vehicle involved in a police pursuit, fleeing on foot and resisting an officer, and possession of concealed handguns containing 41 rounds of ammunition.

Evan m. Harmon

Yet, even as shootings skyrocketed by 78% over last year, the DA’s office hasn’t charged the case.

It’s a pattern of no-prosecutions by Chisholm’s office of charges referred by police.

The first part of our series explored the numbers; last year, the DA’s non-prosecution numbers spiked. His office rejected around 60% of cases, including felonies, referred by local police agencies. It’s coming against a backdrop of rising crime, yet the DA’s refusal to issue criminal charges in so many cases flies beneath the media radar. Chisholm’s office has refused to let the public learn about cases his office is refusing to prosecute, but we obtained the Harmon case from a tip.

Details of Evan M. Harmon’s Arrest:

Evan m harmon
Evan m harmon

According to police reports, on Jan. 19, 2020, Milwaukee police officers were sent to a drug complaint in the 3700 block of N. 25th St. The complainant reported that a Jeep Cherokee was involved in drug dealing.

Here’s what the police reports alleged:

Upon the officer’s arrival, they observed the Jeep leaving the area. Officers attempted to initiate a traffic stop of the Jeep, however, the Jeep fled from officers. Harmon, who was the front-seat passenger, exited the Jeep and fled on foot. An officer chased Harmon on foot, yelling at him to “Stop Police!” The officer allegedly observed Harmon reaching towards the waistband of his pants as he ran from the officer. Harmon eventually slipped and fell on ice in the gangway of a building while continuing to reach in his waistband.

Evan m harmon

Harmon fought and resisted several attempts by the officer to take him into custody which included the use of strikes and the threat of OC spray, the reports say. Harmon would continue to reach towards his waistband. During the fight, the officer observed a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun on the ground near Harmon. The officer immediately took control of the handgun as Harmon took off running again. The officer continued to chase Harmon and he was finally taken into custody by the officer’s partner about one block away, alleges the reports.

The officer returned to the scene where he saw Harmon slip. The officer recovered another handgun, this time a loaded Glock 9mm handgun with an extended magazine near where he saw Harmon slip. The extended magazine contained 25 unfired rounds with an unfired “ready to fire” round in the chamber.

Evan m harmon
Recovered glock 9mm with 26 rounds and an extended magazine

At the time of his arrest, Harmon had felony warrants for two counts of intentionally pointing a firearm at a person, resisting an officer, and felony possession of narcotics.

According to reports, at the time, Harmon had an active protection order/harassment injunction which prohibited Harmon of possessing firearms. We asked for the 2018 harassment injunction at the courthouse and found out it has been dismissed because the woman who filed it didn’t meet her burden of proof.

Police did also ask the DA to issue two counts of violating a harassment injunction by possessing firearms. However, police asked the DA to charge Harmon with multiple other offenses that wouldn’t be affected by the harassment injunction issue, including carrying a concealed gun.

Other Milwaukee officers pursued the Jeep for a total of 4.2 miles until it was terminated by a supervisor. The driver of the Jeep was never located or identified.

Reports say the case was presented to Milwaukee County ADA Brown on Jan. 21, 2020. ADA Brown told the presenting officer that she needed to further investigate the case and pended all charges.

Officers again presented the case to Chisholm’s office on Feb. 4, 2020, However, according to online court records and the Milwaukee Clerk of Courts, no criminal complaint has ever been filed in this case.

When interviewed, police reports say Harmon later denied touching or possessing guns but refused to provide his DNA. He said a white male had offered to rent his car for $60 a day and Harmon agreed to rent it. He claimed the white male, unidentified, was driving when police tried to stop the vehicle.

We reached out to Chisholm’s office for comment on why there were no charges issued in this incident. We will update the story if they respond.

Evan M. Harmon’s Criminal History

According to online court records, Harmon is currently on probation for a 2018 case in which he was convicted of disorderly conduct (use of a dangerous weapon) and resisting or obstructing an officer. Three other charges in that case, including 2 counts of intentionally point firearm at person and one count of felony possession of narcotics were dismissed. Harmon’s sentence was stayed and he only received 18 months probation.

Evan m. Harmon

In that past 2018 case, the criminal complaint says that Milwaukee police officers responded to West Chambers Street for a subject with a gun complaint. The 911 caller said that her cousin, Evan M Harmon, “pulled her by her hair and pointed a gun at her head, threatening to kill her and then pointed the gun at her 15-year-old daughter and threatened to kill her as well.” She explained that she grew up in the neighborhood and her son, who was 18, was killed in the crossfire of an intra-neighborhood shoot-out five years ago. Every year around her son’s birthday and around the anniversary of his death, “people from the neighborhood harass her.”

Evan m harmon

This year, she took her daughter to Miami for the anniversary of her son’s death to avoid the harassment. While they were in Miami, people from the neighborhood were talking about her deceased son and saying she was “the police,” meaning she had called the police on people in the neighborhood. She went to the location when she returned to ask who was spreading rumors of her calling the police. Evan M Harmon allegedly told her to “move around, meaning leave. She said she wouldn’t leave so he allegedly “approached her, head-butted her and pulled her by her hair.”

Then he called his mother, her sister, and said he was going to “bag her,” meaning kill her. He allegedly pulled her by her hair again and put the barrel of his gun up against her head. He pointed the gun at the girl and told her to stay out of it or he would “bag her” when she pulled his shirt and yelled at him to let her mother go.

When police found him, he pulled away and attempted to run and officers tried to gain control of him with an electronic control device but he got up and ran away, says the complaint. They apprehended him. They found two Acetaminophen and Oxycodone Hydrochloride pills in his pants pocket and a loaded .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, says the complaint.

Evan M Harmon is no stranger to the traumas of gun violence. Harmon was featured with his mother in an old Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story that reported that his identical twin brother, Aaron Harmon, was shot to death outside a tavern on a past Easter. Evan Harmon was also shot in that shooting, which ignited over an argument. A 2016 old Journal Sentinel story says that six people retrieved guns and five people fired after Jeremy Green and Aaron Harmon got into a dispute over Green bumping into Aaron Harmon’s friend. Green killed Aaron Harmon, and then was also shot and killed.




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Henry Kissinger dies

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Dies at 100

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who help steer U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam and China, died Wednesday. He was 100.

His consulting firm, Kissinger Associates Inc., announced the death.

Kissinger, born as Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Germany in 1923, left Nazi Germany for America in 1938. He served in the 84th Army Division from 1943 to 1946 after becoming a U.S. citizen. He was awarded the Bronze Star. He later served in the Counter Intelligence Corps in occupied Germany.

President Richard Nixon appointed Kissinger National Security Adviser in 1969. He went on to serve as Secretary of State under Nixon. When Nixon resigned in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal, Kissinger stayed on and served under President Gerald Ford.

"Kissinger played central roles in the opening to China, negotiating the end of the Yom Kippur War in the Middle East, and helping to bring America's role in the Vietnam War to a close. He worked to set the former Rhodesia on the path to representative government and negotiated key arms control agreements with the Soviet Union," according to Kissinger Associates Inc.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, a Vietnamese diplomat, "for jointly having negotiated a cease fire in Vietnam in 1973," according to the Noble Foundation. Le Duc Tho declined the Nobel Peace Prize.

"Kissinger’s tenure as Secretary comprised many controversial issues, including his role in influencing U.S. policies towards countries such as Chile and Angola," according to his official State Department biography.

Kissinger also was known for his "shuttle diplomacy" missions, in which he traveled between Middle East capitals to try to bring peace.

Kissinger also had many critics. HuffPost's obituary of Kissinger had the headline: "Henry Kissinger, America's Most Notorious War Criminal, Dies At 100". HuffPost cited as perhaps Kissinger's most notorious crime a secret four-year bombing campaign in Cambodia against the neutral nation during the time of the Vietnam War.

Kissinger is survived by his wife, Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, two children by his first marriage, David and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren.

He will be interred at a private family service.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests considering donations to: Animal Medical Center, Development Office, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065 or Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036.

Wisconsin Truancy AB 995 School shutdowns

Report: Wisconsin Truancy Rates Soar in Past Decade

(The Center Square) – Many children in Wisconsin schools have not returned to class since the COVID outbreak.

A new report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty looks at the spike in chronic absenteeism, particularly since the start of the 2020 school year.

“The first step in the education of a student is them being present to absorb the material. But when a student is regularly not in school, this process breaks down,” Will Flanderrs wrote in the report. “Getting kids into school on a daily basis is a responsibility shared by school districts and parents. While there is no one change that can magically reverse the downward trend in attendance, it is vital that this issue be at the forefront for policymakers concerned about the education of the next generation.”

The report shows truancy rates in Wisconsin public schools have more than doubled since 2012.

“About 10% of students were chronically absent in 2012 compared to more than 20% today,” the report notes.

The report also shows some of Wisconsin’s worst-performing schools have the highest absentee numbers.

“Beloit, Racine, and Milwaukee are among the districts with the lowest Forward Exam proficiency, but highest absenteeism,” the report said. “Many of the districts with the lowest rates of absenteeism are elementary-only districts – suggestive of the fact that students tend to skip school significantly more as they age and parental oversight declines. Many of Wisconsin’s largest-enrollment school districts are found at the top.”

Racine Schools have the highest absentee rate, followed by Beloit Schools, Milwaukee Public Schools, Ashland Schools and Green Bay Area Public Schools.

Wauzeka-Steuben Schools have the lowest absentee rate, followed by Stone Bank Schools, the Paris J1 district, Swallow Schools and Kohler Schools.

WILL’s report also looks at the effort to fight chronic absenteeism, which is largely non-existent in many communities.

“In most of Wisconsin, actual charges under the state’s truancy laws are quite rare. The most common charge is for contributing to the truancy of a minor,” the report notes. “This charge has been levied 359 times between 2018 and 2022, with only 109 eventual convictions. A very small number of counties contribute to the overall numbers.”

WILL’s report shows Winnebago and Marathon counties account for more than 70 of those 109 convictions. Prosecutors in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Beloit did not record a single truancy conviction between 2018 and 2022.

WILL’s suggested solution is not more prosecutions but rather more education for parents.

“There is conventional wisdom, especially among low-income parents, that attendance in early grades is less critical than, say, high school attendance. But the reality is largely the opposite: students who fall behind early in subjects like reading are often never able to catch back up,” the report states. “Another key factor in reducing absenteeism is making sure that students feel safe in school. A number of studies over the years have found that a negative school environment, or even news of recent school violence, lead to higher rates of absenteeism. WILL has done extensive work over the years on the ways that politically correct discipline policies have harmed school safety. Moving away from softer discipline policies and returning resource officers to schools where needed could improve not only safety, but also attendance.”

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Wisconsin Lawmakers Coming Together on Telehealth Changes for Mental Health Treatment

(The Center Square) – The plan to change Wisconsin’s telehealth rules for mental health treatment is coming together at the State Capitol.

The Senate Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families held a hearing Tuesday on Senate Bill 515 which would allow out-of-state mental health providers to take patients in Wisconsin without having to get a license to practice in Wisconsin.

“Overall, this breaks down barriers. It allows other providers to provide other services. And it allows people to get the help that they need,” Sen. Rachel Cabral-Guevara, R-Appleton, said.

The plan would essentially make Wisconsin’s COVID-era telehealth program permanent.

Supporters say it will also help battle Wisconsin’s “crisis level” shortage of mental health providers.

“The shortage is all the more stark when you look at rural areas of the state,” Institute for Reforming Government’s Alex Ignatowski told lawmakers. “The average throughout the state is one mental health provider for every 470 residents. But if you go to Buffalo County that jumps to 13,030 residents per one mental health provider.”

The proposal already cleared the Wisconsin Assembly, where Cabral-Guevara said there were some changes to get Wisconsin’s Medical Society to drop its opposition.

“There were two amendments that were added. One limits the scope to just mental health providers. So, it takes out physicians, PAs, and nurses, and it puts in therapists, counselors, social workers, and psychologists to provide a little bit narrower scope,” Cabral-Guevara said. “The other one provides that an out-of-state provider needs to register with DSPS so that we know these folks are registered within their state, and we have accountability here in our state.”

Ignatowski said the move to the break-down barriers and eliminate burdensome regulations is a good thing.

“Currently 26 states have some sort of exception for out-of-state telehealth providers. These exceptions cover a number of medical and mental health provider groups, but often have a complex set of requirements. Wisconsin can do better,” Ignatowski said. “We know that providers from other states are not drastically different to the point that we need to impose duplicative licensure requirements or put up new bureaucratic barriers between providers and the Wisconsinites who need help now. There is no silver bullet for solving mental health the mental health crisis in Wisconsin, but SB515 will increase access to mental health services in Wisconsin and warrants your support.”

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New Home Sales in October Drop More Than Expected

New home sales in the U.S. dropped last month as mortgage rates have soared.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, new home sales fell 5.6% in October, more than expected.

“The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2023 was $409,300,” the Bureau said in its announcement. “The average sales price was $487,000.”

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate in the U.S. in October rose to nearly 8% before dipping closer to 7% in November. About this time in 2021, the average rate was around 3%.

That interest rate spike has been fueled in large part by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which has hiked the federal funds rate about a dozen times since March of last year in an effort to combat elevated inflation.

Both inflation and those rates can eventually come down, but it would take time.

“With interest rates edging higher in October, it was expected that new home sales would disappoint, however, as mortgage rates inched lower following Treasury's November 1 announcement of lower than anticipated funding needs, coupled with the market's perception of a decidedly more dovish Fed, rates have edged lower fueling a climb in mortgage applications,” Quincy Krosby, Chief Global Strategist for LPL Financial, said in a statement.

Abortion Would Be Severely Limited in 23 States Roe v. Wade Overturned

Study: States with Restrictive Abortion Bans See 2.3% Hike in Births After Roe Overturned

Roughly 32,000 babies have been born in states that implemented abortion restrictions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, according to a new analysis.

In the first six months of 2023, “births rose by an average of 2.3 percent in states enforcing total abortion bans," leading to an estimated 32,000 births that might have otherwise been aborted, according to a new analysis published by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics initiated by the Deutsche Post Foundation.

“These effects may vary across demographic groups and tend to be larger for younger women and women of color; … vary substantially across ban states, with much larger effects observed in states that are bordered by other ban states and hence have long travel distances to reach facilities that remain open.”

Its November 2023 “Effects of the Dobbs Decision on Fertility” report states that the “U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization sparked the most profound transformation of the landscape of abortion access in 50 years. We provide the first estimates of the effects of this decision on fertility using a preregistered synthetic difference-in-differences design applied to newly released provisional natality data for the first half of 2023.”

The analysis is based on provisional data for the first six months of 2023. “If future research using finalized data and additional policy variation reveals continued substantial effects on birth, then we expect long-lasting and profound effects on the lives of affected pregnant people and their families, including effects on educational investment, employment, earnings, and financial security.”

As of Nov. 1, 2023, 14 states are enforcing bans on abortion in nearly all circumstances, the report notes. Because roughly 23% of American women seeking an abortion experienced an increase in driving distance to the nearest abortion facility (from 43 miles before Dobbs to 330 miles after Dobbs), the driving distance “represents the most profound transformation of the landscape of U.S. abortion access in 50 years.”

According to a different study by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, nearly as many babies are believed to have been born in Texas alone since its new heartbeat bill went into effect Sept. 1, 2021.

Within eight months of the new law going into effect, there were nearly 9,800 live births in Texas from April to December 2022, according to the Johns Hopkins study. If the rate were consistent through November 2023, of an additional 1,225 live births a month, the number of babies born in Texas that otherwise might have been aborted is closer to nearly 32,000 since Sept. 1, 2021.

Suzanne Bell, a lead author of Johns Hopkins study, said their “findings highlight how abortion bans have real implications for birthing people, thousands of whom may have had no choice but to continue an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy to term. Notably, the majority of people who seek abortions live below or close to the poverty line. So many of these birthing people and their families were likely struggling financially even before the recent birth.”

State Sen. Brian Hughes, R-Mineola, who authored Texas’ heartbeat bill, told The Center Square, “Each of these lives is a gift of God and reflects His image. And since passage of the Heartbeat Act, we have drastically increased funding for expectant and new mothers and their babies.

“In Texas, we are proving that we can save the life of the baby while we love, and respect, and support the mother.”

In addition to signing the state’s first heartbeat bill into law, Gov. Greg Abbott signed bills into law extending Medicaid health-care coverage to 12 months post-partum, appropriated more than $447 million for women’s health programs and invested over $140 million in the Thriving Texas Families program.

Prior to Roe being overturned, "In 2020, approximately 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in abortion," the IZA study states, noting that the majority of those seeking abortions, 75%, were low-income. Another 59% said they had previously given birth and 55% reported some kind of hardship including falling behind on rent or losing a job.

Hughes’ bill, SB 8, passed the Texas legislature with bipartisan support and was signed into law in May 2021. By October 2021, a federal judge halted it. By April 2022, the Fifth Circuit overturned that ruling and ended all challenges to the law. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June 2022, Texas’ law went into full effect in August 2022.

Texas’ law is considered to be among the strictest in the nation. It bans abortions from being performed in Texas as soon as a heartbeat of the preborn baby is detected, with limited exceptions. It created a second-degree felony offense for a person who knowingly performs, induces or attempts an abortion. The offense is enhanced to a first-degree felony if an unborn child dies from an abortion. Anyone who violates the law performing an abortion can also be subject to a minimum civil penalty of $100,000 for each violation, with exceptions.

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Language Justice

Denver Schools Adopt ‘Language Justice’ Policy With Goal to Support Native Languages

The Denver school district is among the first in the country to adopt a “language justice” policy as a "long term goal."

The district would encourage non-English speaking students to be able to use their native language to learn as opposed to being educated in English, which advocates say is oppressive and rooted in racism.

Denver schools had about 90,250 students in 2022 with 35,000 multilingual learners with home languages other than English. The district has 200 languages spoken across the district, with Spanish as the home language for the majority of those.

The district included a draft of an equity document that includes a policy statement on "language justice." It was included in the Nov. 16 school board agenda. The document includes this definition for "language justice": "The notion of respecting every individual's fundamental language rights – to be able to communicate, understand, and be understood in the language in which they prefer and feel most articulate and powerful."

The district didn't respond to an email seeking comment. It's not clear how much such a policy would cost and the district didn't provide details in the school board agenda packet of how to implement it.

The Colorado chapter of the education advocacy organization Stand For Children stated it worked with the Denver school district to get the language justice policy adopted.

"We will continue to work with school leaders and staff to help provide knowledge of these policies and strategies to accomplish language justice in every classroom and school," Colorado Stand For Children posted on its website.

The Community Language Cooperative, which has advocated for language justice, referred to a chart that explained what is involved in the program.

"The organization has allocated significant funds to language justice efforts. This is a yearly budget line item," the chart states.

It also states that meetings or public events "are facilitated in the represented languages. ... Interpretation is made available to all participants, not just the non-English speakers."

The organization would also hire bilingual staff members, put them in leadership positions and pay them "equitably" to "ensure that bilingualism is a valued skill for the organization."

"It's not just a matter of hiring more interpreters and translators but rather creating systems and building the infrastructure that best supports linguistically diverse families and supporting multilingual staff," Rosa Guzman-Snyder, co-founder of Community Language Cooperative, said in an email to The Center Square.

The Community Language Cooperative, which provides translation services, explained in a post on The Colorado Trust's website how language justice could be implemented.

"Here’s how it works: When somebody speaks in English, [interpreter Luis] Gomez simultaneously whispers the Spanish interpretation into his mic, which feeds the headsets of everyone in the room. There’s another person whispering the English interpretation when somebody speaks Spanish," the post read.