Lawsuit Filed in Case of 26-year-old American Indian Man Killed by Police in Green Bay

Jonathan Tubby was killed by police while in jail.

Published January 26, 2019

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A lawsuit was filed on Thursday, January 24, 2019, on behalf of the estate of Jonathan Tubby, a tribal citizen of the Oneida Nation, who was killed by police officers while in the Brown County Jail in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Named in the lawsuit as defendants are: Erik O’Brien (the officer who shot Tubby); Colton Wernecke (police officer); Andrew Smith (Green Bay Police Chief); John R. Gossage (former Brown County Sheriff); Heidi Michel (Jail Administrator); City of Green Bay; Brown County; John Does 1-10.

Tubby’s died after he was shot on Friday, October 19, 2018, less than two hours of being arrested. He was at the jail after being arrested during a traffic stop on a felony warrant for failure to show up for a jail sentence for a 2017 drunken driving conviction.

The tragic death happened in the sally port, a secure and controlled entryway of a jail or prison, and according to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office does not have cameras in the sally port.

“Officers O’Brien and/or Wernecke conducted a search incident to the arrest and handcuffing of Mr. Tubby and determined that he was unarmed,” reads the complaint.

A number of officers and deputies were at the jail when O’Brien and Wernecke arrived with Tubby. The suit names them for failing to intervene.

“While Mr. Tubby was unarmed, handcuffed, and in custody of Officers O’Brien and Wernecke in the ‘sally port,’ Officer O’Brien fired multiple shots at Mr. Tubby, killing him. These shots by Officer O’Brien struck Mr. Tubby, including at least one shot to the head at close range,” reads a portion of the lawsuit.

After shooting Tubby, officers attempted life-saving measures and called paramedics. Tubby was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The conduct of Officer O’Brien thus violated clearly established rights of Mr. Tubby of which reasonable officers knew or should have known,” the lawsuit continues.

The lawsuit asks for the court to rule for the following:

  • Actual monetary damages in an amount determined by a jury for each of plaintiff’s causes of action.
  • The award of punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a
  • The award of reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, and disbursements of this action.
  • Injunctive relief requiring the City of Green Bay and Brown County to
    adopt policies regarding the use of force to prohibit the use of lethal
    force against anyone who is in custody and restrained.
  • Injunctive relief requiring the City of Green Bay and Brown County to
    conduct training for all law enforcement officers and correctional staff
    on the appropriate use of force.
  • Injunctive relief requiring Brown County to install, operate, and
    maintain appropriation audio visual recording equipment to capture and
    preserve a record of any events occurring on jail property.
  • Such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to the complaint as of Friday. The defendants have 21 days to respond to the lawsuit.

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