Wisconsin Cops Criticized For Ignoring Spa Shooter's History Of Domestic Abuse [UPDATE]

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Nov 2, 2012 8:20PM

Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, Jr.
Wisconsin lawmakers have called for an investigation of a suburban Milwaukee police department, accusing the authorities of allowing the man who opened fire at a spa to elude incarceration in previous domestic violence cases.

Radcliffe Haughton killed three people, including his wife, and wounded four others at the Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield on Oct. 21 before apparently taking his own life. Zina Haughton had received a restraining order against her husband just days before, and records show Brown Deer police had been called to the Haughtons' home at least 20 times over the course of 11 years. Haughton was only arrested once during these incidents — when he slashed his wife's tires at the spa in September 2012.

Wisconsin law dictates mandatory arrest in cases of domestic violence regardless of cooperation from the victim when officers believe "continued domestic abuse against the alleged victim is likely," or when there is "evidence of physical injury."

In the days since the shooting, Brown Deer police have claimed Zina Haughton's lack of cooperation was their reason for not arresting Radcliffe Haughton. Brown Deer Police Chief Steven Rinzel said in a statement last week:

We understand that domestic violence victims are not always willing to cooperate with the police and are fearful of further retaliation. However, without key information, the police are limited in their ability to make a forced entry into a private residence or pursue appropriate charges.

In the letter (posted in full below), legislators cite two specific occasions in which police breached protocol by not making an arrest. One of those occasions cited was in October, when Zina Haughton called police from a gas station, where she was found barefoot with a bruised face and torn shirt. Police saw her husband in the couple house, but they left when he didn't answer the door.

The other occasion was even more damning. In January 2011, officers were involved in a standoff at the Haughton residence where it appeared Radcliffe Haughton was pointing a rifle at his wife. Officers left 90 minutes into the standoff without filing charges. That's not a "half measure." That's a no measure.

Furthermore, the lawmakers criticized Rinzel's statement above, saying he "misrepresented the meaning and letter of the mandatory arrest law" and that he "must stop implying that the victim was to blame"

CNN reports Zina Haughton had filed a restraining order against her husband, and at a hearing just three days before the shooting she said, “Things have gotten so bad. We need to separate. We need a divorce before you hurt me. I don't want to die.” The judge sided with her, ordered Radcliffe to stay away from her for the next four years and forbade him from possessing a gun. Two days later he bought a .40 caliber handgun.

UPDATE (5 p.m.): Brown Deer village management announced today that they agreed to the investigation and hired an individual to conduct an independent review of the department.


2012 11 2 Wi Spa Shooter Letter