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Racine Supervisor labels Sheriff's call for removal a "political stunt" over bail

WISN Milwaukee logo WISN Milwaukee 11/25/2021
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Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling is calling for the removal of a county supervisor whom the sheriff criticized for posting bail for a man accused of stealing three sheriff's SWAT team guns more than 3 years ago.

In a four-page press release sent to news organizations late Wednesday, Schmaling accused Racine County Board Supervisor Nick Demske of putting the public in "grave danger" for posting bail that day for Adrian Jefferson.

"Supervisor Demske paid for the release of a dangerous individual, who still may have access to military grade weapons and ammunition, back into our community," the release said, "Supervisor Demske makes our community less safe, and he should be removed immediately."

The release said Demske posted $10,000 cash bail on Wednesday.

The release said the gun theft happened in July 2018 at the home of a Racine County Sheriff's Office SWAT operator. It said someone stole a .40 caliber pistol, sniper rifle and M16 rifle from a locked vehicle. The release also said 13 magazines, some of which contained armor-piercing ammunition, were stolen as well.

A review of 12 News archives revealed neither Schmaling nor the sheriff's office had publicly revealed the incident where the law enforcement weapons and ammunition had been stolen. The release indicated the weapons are still currently missing.

When asked for additional information on the theft and any known relationship between Demske and Jefferson, a spokesperson for Schmaling provided limited answers but indicated he was with his family enjoying Thanksgiving Eve.

The spokesperson emailed the initial press release to reporters at 6:10 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving, however, none of the press release's contents were posted publicly to the sheriff's office social media pages.

"It's a political stunt," Demske said when reached by phone Wednesday night.

Demske confirmed he posted the bail on behalf of the Joshua Glover Justice Fund, an organization which, according to its website, was established this year to provide bail relief for individuals in custody at the Racine County Jail.

He said individuals have to apply for assistance, which is not always granted.

"One, it's not my money. It's the community's money, right, the Racine community. We have raised funds from all sorts of members of the Racine community, who want us to use these funds in this way. So, it's a group effort in that way. But the decisions, case by case itself, is also a significantly large group decision. I could never, you know, I don't have the authority to make this decision unilaterally," Demske said.

Online records show prosecutors charged Jefferson in connection to the theft in February 2021.

Schmaling, in the release, claimed Jefferson initially came under suspicion in the theft three days after it occurred when Milwaukee police took him into custody in connection to a carjacking investigation. Schmaling said Jefferson was armed with a handgun with a piece of equipment attached to it which Schmaling said had come from the stolen M16.

While Jefferson is charged with the theft and the carjacking, the criminal complaints detailing the investigation were not available for review after close of business on Wednesday. The release did not include copies of the criminal complaints. Schmaling claimed GPS information from Jefferson's phone showed he traveled from Milwaukee to the subdivision where the gun theft victim's home was located. He also said Milwaukee police found magazines "consistent" with the stolen magazines in Jefferson's bedroom.

Demske said Jefferson, like all defendants charged, but not convicted of a crime, should have access to bail and support.

"We aren't saying we know this person is culpable or we know this person is fully innocent, what we're saying is, 'In the United States of America, we believe that poverty shouldn't be the reason someone is incarcerated.' This person was being held in jail since July just because they couldn't afford a $10,000 bond," Demske said.

"If this were me in this situation, I would have gotten out the same day, not because I'm rich, but because my family could get together and just make sure that I was not stuck in that situation," he added.

The spokesperson for Schmaling admitted while the sheriff was critical of Demske, the supervisor was not being accused of a crime by posting the bail for Jefferson.

"No crime was committed," the spokesperson said.

Demske brushed off Schmaling' s call for him to be removed from office.

"I just like him can be removed by a single group of people. For him, it's the voters of Racine County. For me, it's the voters of the first district of Racine County and those voters know my reputation and those voters also know his reputation. Like always, I trust their judgment."

This story will be updated.

READ MORE:Racine Supervisor labels Sheriff's call for removal a "political stunt" over bail

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