Investigation into shooting incident wastes money, timeNearly six months after James Cruckson admitted raping his ex-girlfriend, shot one Fond du Lac police officer and murdered another, the district attorney of Fond du Lac County the other day held a big press conference and announced the findings of a six-month-long investigation.
By: By Mike Nichols, Superior Telegram
Nearly six months after James Cruckson admitted raping his ex-girlfriend, shot one Fond du Lac police officer and murdered another, the district attorney of Fond du Lac County the other day held a big press conference and announced the findings of a six-month-long investigation.
Not an investigation of Cruckson. Cruckson is dead. After firing 48 rounds at police – 16 from a hunting rifle, 26 from a handgun and six from a police tactical shotgun that belonged to an officer he’d shot – he killed himself.
Not an investigation of whether police used proper tactics, either.
No, the Division of Criminal Investigation of the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Fond du Lac County District Attorney’s Office spent six months investigating, basically, whether the police did anything wrong when they entered Cruckson’s house without permission and also fired back.
“The various officers’ use of deadly force in the nature of return fire and suppression fire was legally justified,” deduced District Attorney Dan Kaminsky. “The officers were justified in defending themselves, extracting those trapped by the gunfire, and protecting the surrounding community from further deadly violence.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but it took six months and countless resources and tax dollars to figure out that? The taxpayers and police officers of Wisconsin anxiously await the Fond du Lac district attorney’s next analysis of, say, whether the United States was justified in responding to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
This was more than a waste of time and money. For six months, the Fond du Lac police who lost a colleague had to wait for the Fond du Lac district attorney to state they didn’t do anything wrong.
In the meantime, thinking there had to be some sort of valid reason for the delay and all the investigation, folks in Fond du Lac became fixated on the fact an officer, no longer on the force, once had a romantic relationship with Cruckson’s ex-girlfriend. Why that would matter is beyond me, but it was good grist, I guess, for those who wanted to believe police might have done something nefarious in defense of one of their own.
Turns out, of course, that the romance had nothing to do with the shootings. Basically, the investigation found, Cruckson went crazy after getting mad at the ex-girlfriend over stuff that had absolutely nothing to do with police.
Both the Division of Criminal Investigation and the district attorney defend their investigations.
“This was an extraordinarily complex investigation due to the size of the crime scene and the swirling rumors that were out there” about Fond du Lac officers somehow acting inappropriately, said Ed Wall, head of the Division of Criminal Investigation.
The Division of Criminal Investigation was actually done with its investigation of the March 20 shooting by early June, which doesn’t seem like an unduly long period of time. Then they handed the findings over to Fond du Lac County District Attorney, who took over three months to conduct his own review.
“I did my job as quickly as possible,” said the district attorney.
I guess we’ll have to take him at his word on that but as long as he brought up his job, it’s worth noting that he is a prosecutor and it was clear from the beginning the only guy who could have been prosecuted for anything killed himself. Despite the wording in the district attorney’s findings, the police didn’t use “deadly force.” They plinked a lunatic in the finger. It was clear from the first that they didn’t do anything wrong, let alone anything prosecutable, and only the most paranoid of conspiracy theorists could have ever thought otherwise. It shouldn’t be the job of investigators and prosecutors to placate conspiracy theorists.
Fond du Lac police officers acted heroically under fire.
Somebody should have said that a long, long time ago.
Mike Nichols is a syndicated columnist who spent 18 years writing about Wisconsin for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is now a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. This column represents only his personal opinion. Contact him at MRNichols@wi.rr.com.