Two women arrested last week in Fitchburg following a car chase that began in Monona have been released without charges.
Both have stated emphatically that media reports linking them to stolen cars or guns being fired at police officers were completely false.
Ana Brindley, 20, and Martinique Walker, 19, were arrested early Tuesday after police responded to reports of stolen vehicles at the Wal-Mart in Monona. Police told reporters that shots were fired at officers and one vehicle drove towards police as they attempted to apprehend the occupants. The car that had driven at officers was stopped by the deployment of spike strips. The occupants of the car then got out and ran in various directions, leaping over a fence near the highway.
Monona police said Friday that Brindley and Walker had been driving “the pick-up car” and fled with at least two other subjects, leading police on a chase to Fitchburg. Madison police and Dane County Sheriff’s deputies assisted in that chase and the vehicle was ultimately stopped with spike strips.
Monona police allege that Walker refused to comply with commands, so they had to deploy a police dog, which bit her leg, causing a deep wound.
However, it’s not clear that there ever was a “pick-up car.”
On Thursday afternoon officers arrested two young men in connection with a series of car thefts and burglaries, and believe them to be responsible for the Tuesday incident. Monona detectives told Madison365 that neither of the men had any connections with Walker or Brindley, and Brindley said she didn’t know either of them. Monona Police also told Madison365 that neither of the young men were suspected of shooting at police in Monona. Monona police said they never found a weapon or any shell casings. It’s unclear why initial reports included allegations of shots fired at police.
In interviews with Madison365, both Brindley and Walker’s mother Rachel Walker deny that Brindley and Walker were involved in the car thefts in any way, saying it was a case of mistaken identity. Rachel Walker said she received a text message from her daughter at 2 a.m, 15 minutes after police were dispatched to the Walmart, asking for a ride home from a friend’s house. She said her daughter and a young man were ready to leave the friend’s house and asked if she could get them a cab or something. A few minutes later her daughter called saying Brindley would take her and the young man home for $5 to cover gas, and they would be home shortly.
Walker said she got a call the next morning saying that Martinique was in the hospital with wounds from a K-9 bite and that she had resisted arrest. She bonded Martinique out for $300 and said when she picked Martinique up, Martinique was extremely traumatized and frightened.
It remains unclear why or how Monona Police came to suspect that Brindley’s vehicle was involved or connected to the thefts in Monona.
Walker, like Brindley, emphatically states that Martinique was not involved in any stealing of cars and that she was not aggressive with or belligerent towards officers but that she may have simply gotten out of the vehicle before being instructed to, or after being instructed not to, and that’s when the K-9 bit her.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne did not respond to an email message seeking comment on Friday, but a Dane County District Attorney’s office employee who refused to give his name said there were no pending charges against either woman. Walker received a letter from Dane County District Attorney Ishmael Ozanne stating that the pending charges would not be filed, but that she still must appear in court July 18.
Despite being released without charges, the experience has caused significant issues for the young women. Both Brindley and Walker had their mugshots posted on multiple local media sites alongside reports that Monona Police had chased them in connection with stolen vehicles and shots fired at police. As a result, both women have faced scrutiny from their employers as well as damage to their reputations generally.
Walker says that things have been incredibly difficult for Martinique since this incident. Martinique is a young mother herself and has been supporting herself by working at a local restaurant. But ever since having her mugshot published across multiple news outlets despite not being charged with any crime, Martinique has found it difficult to even want to go outside at all.
“She’s really traumatized,” Rachel Walker told Madison365. “She is on medical leave from work and I’m trying to hold her together. It is traumatizing to my family. My daughter doesn’t want to leave the house. She has a child to raise. She might not have a job anymore. When she called in to give them her doctor’s note they think she was shooting at police officers and stealing cars. She’s having a hard time talking about it or she would be talking to you herself. She’s having a real hard time talking about it. So I’m working on that and working on getting her a therapist.”
She said the entire issue should never have involved her daughter.
“It sounds like racial profiling,” Rachel Walker said. “I’m not saying that, but it doesn’t make any sense. You might have just ruined my daughter’s life because you pulled them over wrongly.”
For her part, Brindley has been furious at the media for posting mugshots of her in a way that implied she was in any way connected with stealing cars, being a getaway car or shooting at police. She stated loudly and clearly to Madison365 that she was not involved with those things and that police mistook her and Martinique Walker for young teens who were involved. Brindley, who also makes her living waiting tables, says that things have been incredibly difficult at work because people think she is a criminal who stole cars and shot at police.
Brindley and Martinique Walker must both appear in court on July 18 to conclude matters stemming from being pulled over, even though the DA’s office is not pursuing any charges against either one of them.