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Superior Police Chief Charles LaGesse speaks at a press conference Thursday regarding an officer's use of force during an arrest earlier this month. Investigation into the incident has been handed over to the state and the officer has been placed on paid administrative leave. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

State tapped to investigate SPD use of force incident

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Superior Telegram

A Superior Police officer whose use of force during an arrest on Jan. 5 is being questioned has been put on administrative leave. The investigation into his actions has been handed over to the state.

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Officer George Gothner, a 15-year-veteran of the department, was taken off the streets and placed on desk duty Friday, according to a release by Superior Police Chief Charles LaGesse. At a press conference Tuesday, the chief said Gothner has since been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

“The Superior Police Department is sworn to protect, committed to justice and dedicated to professional service,” LaGesse said. The department values the trust and confidence the community places in them, he said, which is why the investigation has been handed over to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Under scrutiny are the actions Gothner took when arresting Natasha Nashai Lancour, 28, in Keyport Lounge parking lot the evening of Jan. 5. A dash cam video from the officer’s squad car shows him struggling with and punching Lancour. According to his report, Gothner was responding to Lancour, who he said scratched him and kept swinging at him.

An investigation into Gothner’s use of force was launched three weeks ago and an independent police use of force expert was tapped to evaluate the incident, according to LaGesse.

“Now in light of the additional video and the obvious attention from media and from the community, it’s clear that we need the state of Wisconsin to be the investigating agency so that’s being done now,” the police chief said.

LaGesse could not give a timetable for when the investigation would be completed. He did not comment on the charges against Lancour — a disorderly conduct charge and one felony count of battery to a police officer. Whether prosecution continues is up to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office, he said. Lancour’s next court appearance is slated for Friday.

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