Jury Finds Gun Shop Liable in Sale of Illegal Gun That Wounded Officers

The Milwaukee officers were both shot in the face in 2009.

October 13, 2015, 7:03 PM

— -- A jury in Milwaukee, Wis., has sided today with two police officers in a civil case that claimed a gun store bore some responsibility in the illegal sale of a gun that was later used in their shooting.

Milwaukee police officer Bryan Norberg and former officer Graham Kunisch were seriously wounded in 2009, when Julius Burton shot both of them in their faces as they were stopping him for riding his bike on the sidewalk. The officers said they were left physically and mentally scarred.

"I felt like I didn't deserve to live anymore," Norberg testified during the trial. "I took my dog for a walk and actually considered committing suicide...I let my partner down."

Norberg returned to the force after the shooting but said that his injuries made it hard to do his job. Kunisch retired from the police department. The officers' lawsuit sought nearly $10 million in damages. The jury awarded Norberg $1.5 million and Kunisch $3.5 million.

Authorities later linked the weapon to Jacob Collins. Authorities said Burton, a minor at the time, had paid Collins to illegally purchase the gun for him at Badger Guns in a deal called a straw purchase.

Burton pleaded guilty to attempted first degree intentional homicide and is in prison. He was also convicted in the illegal gun purchase. Collins served a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to buying a gun for an underage person.

The jury's verdict is expected to have far-reaching implications.

According to the lawsuit, Badger Guns approved the sale despite a number of irregularities including the fact that the man filling out the form had noted that the gun was not for him.

Milwaukee authorities also alleged that between 2006 and 2009 more than 1,800 guns purchased from Badger Guns had been used in crimes.

"Badger Guns did not do the job it was required to do when it made that sale," Patrick Dunphy, the officers' attorney, said during the trial. "If Badger Guns had done its job...then Bryan and Graham would not have been shot."

During the trial, the gun store's lawyers and staff had maintained that Badger Guns had never intentionally sold weapons to criminals.

"The last thing we want to do is put a gun in the hands of someone who is going to commit a crime," sales clerk Donald Flora testified during the trial.

ABC News affiliate WISN-TV contributed to this story.