- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Gun shop ordered to pay millions to injured police officers

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A jury ordered a Wisconsin gun store on Tuesday to pay nearly $6 million to two Milwaukee police officers who were shot and seriously wounded by a gun purchased at the store.

The ruling came in a negligence lawsuit that the officers filed against the owners and operators of Badger Guns. The suit alleged the shop allowed an illegal sale despite several warning signs that should have prompted a store clerk to stop the transaction and know the gun was being sold to a “straw buyer,” or someone who was buying the gun for someone who couldn’t legally do so.

Jurors sided with the officers, ruling that the store was negligent in selling the gun.

Officer Bryan Norberg and retired Officer Graham Kunisch were both shot in the face after they stopped Julius Burton for riding his bike on the sidewalk in the summer of 2009. Surveillance video shows the officers scuffled with Burton and slammed him into a wall before he shot them both in the face.

One bullet shattered eight of Norberg’s teeth, blew through his cheek and lodged into his shoulder. He remains on the force but argues that his wounds have made his work difficult. Kunisch was shot several times, resulting in him losing an eye and part of the frontal lobe of his brain. He said the wounds forced him to retire.

Jurors ordered the store to pay Norberg $1.5 million and Kunisch $3.6 million, in addition to $730,000 in punitive damages.

The issue gained attention in the U.S. presidential campaign when Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton recently said she would push for a repeal of the George W. Bush-era gun law that Badger Guns’ lawyers said shielded the store from liability claims.

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Senate committee approves fetal tissue research ban

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The state Senate’s health committee has approved a bill that would outlaw research using tissue obtained from aborted fetuses.

The Republican-controlled committee passed the bill 3-2 along party lines Tuesday. The votes clear the way for a vote in the full Senate. It’s unclear how much support the bill has in that chamber, however.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers and private scientists oppose the measure. They argue it could end ground-breaking medical research that relies on fetal tissue cells. Republicans have amended the bill to outlaw research on fetal tissue cell lines obtained from abortions after Jan. 1 of this year, but the researchers say they need new lines.

The state’s largest business group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, also opposes the measure.

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Sheriff: Fugitive caught near Wisconsin-Illinois line

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) - The Kenosha County sheriff says a fugitive is finally caught after a lengthy manhunt.

Sheriff David Beth said homicide suspect Andrew Obregon was in custody Tuesday after a foot chase near the Wisconsin-Illinois state line. No other details were immediately released.

Earlier, Beth said authorities believe Obregon carjacked a Chevrolet Spark near his parents’ house in the Town of Brighton.

Investigators suspect Obregon killed Tywon Anderson believing he was a drug dealer who had robbed his nephew. Search warrant documents say Obregon admitted to at least two people that he killed Anderson, whose body was found in a cornfield last month. The Kenosha News (https://bit.ly/1Pd3ZUWhttps://bit.ly/1Pd3ZUW ) says he was killed with a gunshot to the back of his head.

Authorities suspect Obregon robbed a gas station, broke into another convenience store and stole several vehicles.

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Information from: Kenosha News, https://www.kenoshanews.comhttps://www.kenoshanews.com

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Republicans call elections board ‘failed experiment’

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin’s unique nonpartisan elections and government ethics oversight board is a failed experiment that has not lived up to expectations, Republicans said Tuesday while arguing at a joint legislative hearing for moving to a new, partisan model.

The all-day hearing grew tense at times, with the director of the Government Accountability Board that’s being targeted for elimination accusing one Republican senator of McCarthy-era questioning when he asked about his relationship with former IRS director Lois Lerner.

“Seriously?” Kevin Kennedy said when Sen. Chris Kapenga asked about Lerner, who had been involved in targeting conservative tea party groups for reviews of their tax-exempt status. “Have you no decency? That is like right out of the McCarthy era to ask a question like that. I owe you no explanation about my friendships.”

Kennedy said he had known Lerner for more than 20 years and they had a professional friendship. Kennedy later told reporters that the exchange revealed the “shallow, petty attitude” of those seeking to replace the board he leads.

Kennedy, in his testimony in defense of the nearly 8-year-old board, said the real goal is to exert more political control over an independent arm of the government, weakening regulation and leading to more corruption going undetected.

The bill would do away with the GAB as of June 30 - about four months before the November presidential election - replacing it with separate ethics and elections commissions run by an equal number of Republican and Democratic appointees. The current board also oversees the state’s ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws.

The proposal would create a “partisan lapdog” and a “toothless agency” similar to what was in place after five former legislators were convicted of campaigning illegally in a 2002 scandal, said Rep. Jocasta Zamarripa, a Milwaukee Democrat.

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