Milwaukee Sheriff Sued Over Airport Detention

MILWAUKEE (CN) – A Wisconsin man claims Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. illegally detained and questioned him about his political views after he shook his head at the sheriff during a flight from Dallas to Milwaukee.

Daniel Black sued Sheriff Clarke in Milwaukee federal court on Thursday, claiming he was arrested and interrogated at the General Mitchell International Airport for shaking his head no to Clarke on a flight.

Milwaukee County and six unidentified deputy sheriffs are also named as defendants in the lawsuit, which centers on the Jan. 15 flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Milwaukee.

“While boarding the flight, Black saw a man that looked like Sheriff Clarke wearing clothes emblazoned with the logo and colors of the Dallas Cowboys football team. Black asked the man if he was Sheriff Clarke, and Sheriff Clarke responded that he was,” the complaint states. “Black moved towards the rear of the airplane and shook his head. Sheriff Clarke asked Black if he had a problem. Black shook his head no and continued walking and took a seat in the rear of the airplane.”

According to the complaint, there was no more interaction between Black and Clarke during the flight.

But once Black got off the airplane, he says Clarke was waiting for him near the gate and motioned for deputy sheriffs to stop him.

Black claims he was arrested and two deputies interrogated him for about 15 minutes, asking him questions about his political opinions.

“A reasonable Milwaukee County sheriff would not have ordered his deputy sheriffs to stop, arrest and interrogate a citizen for shaking his head,” the complaint states.

According to his lawsuit, Black complained to Milwaukee County about the incident but Clarke retaliated by publishing a “statement to incite violent verbal assaults” against him.

Clarke allegedly said in a social media posting, “Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out. The Sheriff said he does not have to wait for some goof to assault him. He reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault.”

The sheriff’s statement was allegedly accompanied by a photo that said, “Cheer up, snowflake…If Sheriff Clarke were to really harass you, you wouldn’t be around to whine about it.”

Black says the post was threatening and did not reflect what actually happened on the airplane.

“Black has experienced racial and other threats against his person on social media as a direct result of Sheriff Clarke’s statements,” the lawsuit states. “Sheriff Clarke’s continuing misconduct is designed to intimidate and dissuade Black from complaining and to impede accountability mechanisms available to other citizens.”

Clarke gained national attention last year after four people died in his jail, including an infant and a man who died of thirst, who reportedly begged for water for days. The sheriff is also known for his vocal support of President Donald Trump, going back to his campaign.

The sheriff’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

Black seeks a ruling that his constitutional rights were violated and damages for emotional distress. He is represented by William Sulton with Peterson, Johnson & Murray in Milwaukee.

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