Judge: Alfonso Morales will be MPD chief in 45 days unless settlement is reached

Judge: Alfonso Morales will be MPD chief in 45 days unless settlement is reached

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's ousted former police chief could once again become the city's top cop, under a judge's ruling on Wednesday, May 19.

Milwaukee County Judge Christopher Foley ruled Wednesday that former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales must be reinstated to his former position unless Morales' attorneys and the city can reach a settlement. The judge ruled the settlement must be reached within 45 days. 

"We have not received any written offers or anything that is reasonable back, even orally," said Morales' attorney Ray Dall'Osto during a news conference Wednesday.

Morales sued the city after he was demoted to police captain in August. In December, a judge reversed the decision from the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, or FPC, to demote Morales, which effectively reinstated him to the position. Morales' attorneys claim the city has failed to abide by the judge's decision.

Dall'Osto said Morales would be ready to walk back in to police headquarters as soon as possible.

"Chief Morales has been ready, willing and available and able to serve as police chief," Dall'Osto said.

In court filings, attorneys for the city acknowledged that Morales was denied due process. However, they argued that because Morales is retired, a court cannot reinstate him into his previous position.

Alderman Robert Bauman called the judge's decision a "clear win for Morales." He said in previous conversations with members of Common Council, they had indicated they would not be willing to pay Morales "anything" as a settlement.

"If that position holds true -- absent to the court advising its ruling or amending its ruling or a higher court reviewing this and reversing the court's order -- there's a high probability Morales will be back as chief of police in 45 days," Bauman told CBS 58.

Bauman cited Morales' protests of social justice protests last summer as reasons council members would be unlikely to settle.

"Some of the comments he made in connection with those events -- you know, he's being persecuted like Jesus Christ going to the cross -- these kinds of comments I think really rubbed the council the wrong way," Bauman said.

Dale Bormann, Jr., president of the Milwaukee Police Association, applauded Foley's ruling Wednesday.

"I think the judge made a correct ruling in this case. The department must reinstate Chief Morales or pay him. It’s very unfortunate that City Attorney Tearman Spencer and/or the Fire & Police Commission made critical errors with the handling of Chief Morales. And now they must either pay him or reinstate him. It’s time to see what the City of Milwaukee will do," Bormann said.

Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer said he could not comment on pending litigation. Nate Cade, the attorney representing the city, said he did not have permission to comment on the case.

The Milwaukee Police Department referred CBS 58 to the FPC for comment. FPC Executive Director Leon Todd said he could not comment due to "ongoing litigation and discussions."

CBS 58 has been following the story from the beginning. Morales was named interim chief in 2018 and sworn in for a four-year term in December 2019.

In July 2020, the FPC gave Morales a list of directives to follow or face disciplinary action. Two weeks later, the commission demoted Morales. He retired and filed a claim against the city that same month. The demotion was reversed in December. 

Milwaukee has been without an official police chief since Morales was demoted. The FPC voted for a new chief twice and both ended in a tie. 

The commission then halted the process saying it wanted to wait until the Morales legal matters were resolved. Jeffrey Norman became Milwaukee's acting police chief in December 2020.

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