A jury today ordered a Milwaukee gun store to pay nearly $6 million to two city police officers who were shot in the face with a weapon bought at the shop. The jurors agreed with the officers, whose lawsuit accused Badger Guns of selling the gun despite signs that the buyer was acquiring it for someone who couldn't buy it legally.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:
"Officer Bryan Norberg and former Officer Graham Kunisch were shot by Julius Burton during a routine stop on Milwaukee's near southside in June 2009. A month earlier, Jacob Collins bought the gun at Badger Guns for Burton, who was too young to buy a handgun from a store. Burton paid Collins $60. Burton is serving 80 years while Collins already finished his two years in federal prison."
The officers' attorney, Patrick Dunphy, convinced the jury that store personnel should have realized the sale was illegal:
"Burton and Collins came into the store together, Burton pointed out the gun he wanted and said 'that's the one,' Dunphy said. When it came to the paperwork, Collins marked on a form that he was not the actual buyer of the gun. He was allowed to change his answer to 'yes' by the clerk, Dunphy said.
"Dunphy also noted Collins put down the wrong address on another form and when he was paying for the gun, he didn't have enough money. He left the store with Burton and came back with the rest of the cash."
The Associated Press reports on the severe wounds that Norberg and now-retired Kunisch suffered when they tried to stop Burton from riding a bicycle on the sidewalk:
"One bullet shattered eight of Norberg's teeth, blew through his cheek and lodged into his shoulder. He remains on the force but said his wounds have made his work difficult. Kunisch was shot several times, resulting in his losing an eye and part of the frontal lobe of his brain. He said the wounds forced him to retire."
Wisconsin Public Radio's Chuck Quirmbach reports for our Newscast unit:
"The police officers' lawyer, Patrick Dunphy, says he isn't sure if other gun sellers will toughen their policies in reaction to the jury award.
" 'One verdict in Milwaukee is certainly a good step. Is it going to change the way things are done around the country? Time will tell.'
"Lawyers for the gun store declined comment."