Flatoff trial to begin Monday

Police investigate after a Dec. 5, 2015 standoff in Neenah. (WLUK file photo)

WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WLUK) -- A felony murder trial is set to begin Monday morning at the Winnebago County Courthouse for a police shooting in December of 2015.

Police officers shot and killed Michael Funk. But Brian Flatoff is charged in causing Funk's death while committing a crime.

Flatoff is facing 16 counts including felony murder of Michael Funk. But Flatoff says he is not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

In 2015, Flatoff allegedly took hostages at gunpoint at Eagle Nation Cycles in Neenah; it triggered a shootout with police.

Minutes later, Funk, who was one of the hostages, ran from the building and was shot and killed by police without warning. Police mistook Funk for the hostage taker.

Neenah police chief, Kevin Wilkinson told FOX 11, officers do not have to give a warning before shooting.

"There's no legal requirement that a warning be given and we have no policy that requires warning be given under those circumstances," said Wilkinson.

In 2016, Attorney Brad Schimel and the Wisconsin DOJ confirmed the officers were justified in their response.

"The evidence is that they did not recognize the person they shot, and they believed the person they shot was the armed hostage taker," Schimel said.

But friends of Michael Funk firmly disagree.

" I think this is just absurd," said Kay Reetz of Neenah. "My heart just broke for Michael, he was a good friend, he was a nice guy. I learned today that I don't believe justice was served."

Deputy district attorney Scott Ceman said under the law, Flatoff can be charged with crimes that led to Funk being shot.

"The person who was committing the initial felonies can be charged with felony murder," Ceman explained.

For more than 2 years, Flatoff went through numerous public defenders. Some left on their own, the others were distrusted by Flatoff. Flatoff will be representing himself during the trial.

On Friday Ceman and Flatoff discussed potential jurors with the judge. Final jurors will be decided on Monday.

Flatoff is being held at the Winnebago County jail on a $500,000 cash bond. The trial is slated to last 3 weeks.

If convicted, he faces up to nearly 300 years in prison.


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