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Federal judge rules Monona officers illegally entered home, detained Black man staying there


Monona police officers Jared Wedig and Luke Wunsch committed a “clear-cut violation of the Fourth Amendment” when they entered the home where Keonte Furdge was staying and detained him at gunpoint, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. He further ruled that Wedig cannot claim qualified immunity because he “violated clearly established constitutional rights.”

Furdge, a 2016 graduate of Monona High School, sued the two officers and the City of Monona in federal court after a June 2, 2020 incident when Furdge was staying temporarily with former Monona High School football teammate Toren Young in a house owned by football coach Mark Rundle. A neighbor saw Furdge on the porch and called police. Depsite written reports claiming that they knocked before entering, body camera video shows they didn’t, and that they entered the house with guns drawn and handcuffed Furdge even after they’d established that he had permission to stay in the house.

When Madison365 first reported the incident the next day, Furdge said in an interview that he feared for his life during the encounter. He and Young made a complaint with the Monona Police Department, and the department issued a public apology, but Furdge said he didn’t hear directly from anyone at the city or police department. Mayor Mary O’Connor pledged that the matter would be fully investigated.

Furdge filed the federal lawsuit in September 2020.

In his ruling, District Judge James Peterson said the officers had no reason to believe a crime was underway, and didn’t do any real investigation to determine whether one might be. Given that, an application for a search warrant allowing entry to the home would have been “laughable,” Peterson wrote.

Read the full ruling here.

Peterson ruled that Wunsch was relying on Wedig’s judgement in entering the home, and is therefore only liable for Furdge’s unlawful detention.

A trial to determine the actual damages awarded to Furdge will take place next month. Peterson ruled that neither officer acted with malice or “evil intent,” and that therefore Furdge would not receive punitive damages.

Furdge dropped an additional claim of excessive force, and dropped the City of Monona as a defendant in the case, court records indicate.

In a statement posted to the Monona Police Department website, Police Chief Brian Chaney Austin wrote, “The City and Police Department have grown from this incident as we are constantly looking for the best ways to provide high-quality public safety services to our community. Monona PD has updated its policies and the City has recently contracted with a policy management firm to ensure procedures are within best practices. We look forward to continued work with our community stakeholders, our elected officials and support from our partners at the Nehemiah Center and others in pursuit of creating a safer and welcoming community for all.”

Chaney Austin was not police chief at the time of the incident.

Furdge did not respond to a request for comment and his attorneys were unavailable at the time of publication. Both Wedig and Wunsch are still employed as Monona police officers.