Suit Accuses Milwaukee Sheriff Of Abuse Of Power In Airport Incident

Passenger claims he was harassed for shaking his head at the tough-talking lawman.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke called one of his critics a “snowflake” ― but a new lawsuit claims the tough-talking favorite of the far right is so delicate that he had a fellow airline passenger detained for looking at him wrong

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by attorneys for Dan Black, who said he asked Clarke if he was indeed the sheriff while boarding a flight from Dallas to Milwaukee last month. 

When Clarke replied that he was, Black said he simply shook his head in response. 

Black said that when the plane landed, deputies were waiting for him. He said he was detained, questioned and escorted out of the airport. 

He filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office over the incident, but attorney William Sulton told LawNewz that Clarke and his office have not cooperated with the investigation. 

“I would have been fine if I filed this complaint and he responded and apologized. I probably would have left it there,” Black told Milwaukee’s WDJT-TV on Thursday.

Instead, Clarke’s department posted a meme with Black’s photo calling him a “snowflake” and stating that “next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out.” 

So now Black has filed suit against Clarke, six deputies and Milwaukee County seeking unspecified damages for “unlawful stop and arrest.”

“It was Mr. Black’s hope that the county would investigate the matter and impose appropriate corrective measures,” Sulton told LawNewz. “Sheriff Clarke, however, responded to the complaint by threatening Mr. Black with violence and encouraging others to follow suit.”

Last month, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele apologized to Black and blasted Clarke for posting the meme and making a “juvenile” threat.

Local media reports that the sheriff’s office has declined to comment due to the pending lawsuit. 

Although registered as a Democrat, Clarke has become a right-wing media darling, and a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week said the sheriff earned $220,172 in “speaking fees, gifts, lodging, airfare and other travel-related expenses in 2016.”

That’s significantly more than his $132,290 annual salary as sheriff. 

While he made at least 34 speaking appearances around the country last year, at least four people died in that same period in the jail run by Clarke, including an infant and a man who died of thirst as he reportedly begged for water for days.