Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office deputy charged with homicide in crash that killed man near 10th and State
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Nearly four months after a crash killed 47-year-old Ceasar Stinson near 10th and State, a Milwaukee County Sheriff's deputy has been formally charged in connection.
Joel Streicher, 50, has been charged with homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.
The crash happened on Jan. 25. The MCSO says Deputy Streicher was traveling northbound on 10th Street, and while he was at the intersection of 10th and State, his squad collided with a vehicle traveling westbound on State. That vehicle flipped on its side. Life-saving measures were attempted on the driver, identified as Ceasar Stinson, but were unsuccessful. Stinson passed away at the scene.
According to a criminal complaint, the deputy admitted to looking at his computer screen while driving and believed it was possible he drove through a red light at the intersection. In a statement, Streicher said he looked at the computer screen for any new assignments or activity. He recalled seeing as assignment about a stolen vehicle, that he believed as an older assignment.
"The defendant further stated that he does not remember how long he looked at his computer screen or how many times," the complaint says.
There are current standards for those that operate law enforcement emergency vehicles in Wisconsin. The introduction in the manual states:
"You must be continually alert to your environment and pay attention to the surrounding area as well as the other drivers on the road with you. You must be prepared to shift into emergency mode at any time.You will be constantly monitoring the radio, trying to stay aware of what other officers in your area are doing, and where they are. Patrol driving takes more concentration than ordinary off-duty driving."
Regarding the use of the on-board computer, the manual says:
"MDTs and laptops. Mobile Data Terminals and laptops are another matter—they not only require mental attention, they also require you to take your eyes off the road. Do not try to read the screen while your vehicle is in motion…"
Investigators determined Deputy Streicher's squad was traveling steadily at 29-30 mph five seconds prior to the crash impact. Security cameras near the intersection showed the deputy's squad did not appear to brake at any point before going through the intersection.
The video also shows Streicher in the rightmost northbound lane, which is a right turn only lane, according to the complaint. Streicher said he was planning on traveling northbound, and was "therefore not in the proper legal lane to proceed through the intersection northbound. Thus, the defendant both went through a red light and entered the intersection from a turn only lane in violation of the traffic rules," the complaint states.
It goes on to say the video shows Streicher's squad enter the intersection, from the wrong lane and against the red light. The video then show's Stinson's truck enter the intersection.
"At the moment of the impact, the traffic signal for the Defendant is still red," the complaint says.
The complaint also details a previous crash Streicher was in while on-duty back in July 2018. He was driving the same unmarked squad car involved in the crash that killed Stinson.
The complaint says in the 2018 crash, Streicher was exiting Southbound I-43 at W. Highland Avenue. The off-ramp has three lanes. The left lane is a left turn only lane, the center lane is for traffic straight through the intersection and the right lane that allows for right turns and straight through traffic. Streicher was in the left lane, which was for left turn only traffic. Instead of turning left, he continued straight and collided with another vehicle that was in the center lane and was properly driving through the intersection.
CBS 58 has reached out to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office about that incident and whether Streicher was disciplined but has not heard back.
CBS 58 has also filed an open records request for the report and any video from the 2018 crash.
An open records request for the video and reports from crash at 10th and State that killed Stinson is pending.
Streicher went filed a civil complaint back in February to prevent the release of his internal affairs history. That is still pending in court.
CBS 58 reached out to the attorney representing Streicher, but have not heard back as of Monday night.
Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas shared the following about the charge issued against Streicher Monday:
“The charge brought by the District Attorney’s Office moves the community one step closer to finding answers to this tragic crash that not only took the life of Ceasar Stinson but affected many more lives in the Milwaukee community. It also begins the process of healing and bringing closure to the family of Mr. Stinson. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office will cooperate with the District Attorney’s Office investigation. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office internal review into this matter remains independent of the DA’s investigation to ensure integrity throughout the process.”
Stinson's daughter, Cearra, also issued a statement:
"As a young black woman and only child, it has been particularly difficult for me to adjust to this new reality without my dad, my protector and my confidant. I cherished the bond that my father and I had. As a result of Joel Streicher’s extreme recklessness, I lost the most important part of me. Moreover, the larger Milwaukee community lost someone whose energy and efforts can never be replaced. For three and a half grueling months I’ve waited patiently with the hope that justice would be served for my father. All indications are that my father’s death could have been prevented but for the extreme recklessness of Joel Streicher. Today, Streicher is being criminally charged. But this is just the first step on a long road. I will continue to wait for justice to be served with a conviction. I thank District Attorney John Chisholm and his staff for starting us down that road. My father was and remains a symbol of hope in the Milwaukee community. He stood for justice and the proposition that all persons should be entitled to equal justice under the laws. I can only hope that the justice that my dad lived for will not be denied him here. Ceasar's legacy demands that justice be served, he deserves it. #JusticeForCeasar #LongLiveKingCeasar."