$3.5M claim filed in Eagle Nation shooting

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A claim totaling more than $3.5 million has been filed against the city of Neenah and three police officers stemming from the Dec. 5 shooting death of Michael L. Funk during a hostage standoff at Eagle Nation Cycles.

It was filed Thursday by Funk's widow, Theresa Mason-Funk, and is a prelude to an expected federal lawsuit, according to a release from attorney Howard B. Schoenfeld of DeWitt Ross & Stevens.

The city and the three officers have 120 days to determine if they want to resolve the matter without litigation, the law firm said. Schoenfeld served the documents on the city of Neenah and three Neenah police officers — Craig Hoffer, Jonathan Kuffel and Robert Ross.

Late Thursday night, the city released a statement saying the claim is under review and has been referred to its defense counsel, Gunta Law Office.

Neenah police stormed the motorcycle shop on Dec. 5 after learning Brian T. Flatoff, a Stevens Point man charged with sparking the shooting, threatened to kill hostages.

A firefight between Flatoff and police erupted, and after officers retreated, Funk escaped out a back door as Flatoff shot at him. Funk was then shot and killed by police in an alley behind the building.

Neenah police contend Funk was shot because he did not drop a gun after being ordered to do so.

The claim, however, alleges that Hoffer, Kuffel and Ross fired their rifles at Funk and "collectively fired at least twelve shots at (Funk)."

In its Thursday statement, the city said Kuffel did "not respond to Michael Funk's actions" when he was shot at by police.

"It's not accurate," said Neenah City Attorney Jim Godlewski. "It's not in the criminal complaint and it's not in any of the police reports. I'm not sure where they're getting that from. ... (The shooting) is still under review at this point."

The shooting remains under investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. No timetable has been established for when Assistant Attorney General Shelly Rusch will decide whether police were justified when they shot Funk.

Godlewski said Friday that Hoffer, Kuffel and Ross were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting. The officers returned to work Dec. 28 and were assigned to desk duty.

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(Photo: Photo courtesy of Athea Callahan)

RELATED:  Complete coverage of Eagle Nation Cycles standoff in Neenah

Flatoff, meanwhile, faces 16 felony charges that carry a combined penalty of more than 300 years in prison. His arraignment is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. April 11.

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