Damakant Jayshi

The two women who have strongly objected to the Wausau Police and Fire Commission’s handling in a situation involving the police department accused the body and the independent counsel of insensitivity in handling their complaint.

Alyssa Froom and Julie Leist said neither the commission nor counsel Samuel Hall responded to their repeated outreach surrounding the Wausau Police Department’s investigation into the 2020 death of Froom’s 7-year-old daughter, Eliana Froom. Hall is assisting the commission in its investigation of the complaint against the police department.

Froom said that she and Leist have both attempted to communicate after the commission’s March 28 meeting, in which police chief Ben Bliven gave an update on the investigation. Bliven has not named the outside agency conducting the investigation. The PFC had initially offered to allow the women to make statements at their March 28 meeting but later withdrew the offer. At the same time, the group allowed Bliven to speak – despite objections from the complainants.

Froom and Leist have alleged violations of due process over the PFC’s handling of their complaint against Bliven and six other police officers. Earlier, they also alleged violations of their civil rights.

After the PFC dismissed the complaint against Bliven in February, the women appealed. The Commission did not change course and allowed Bliven to choose an outside law enforcement agency to investigate the other officers involved, a directive that was made before the 30-day window in which Froom could file an appeal.

“I still have no response regarding the email and the things I brought to their attention,” Froom said. “Neither I or Julie (Leist) has had a response from the attorney or the PFC.” She accused the PFC of ignoring their concerns. 

PFC chair William Harris told Wausau Pilot & Review to refer any statements or allegations to Attorney Hall, who did not respond to request for comment. Previously, Hall said no further comments would be made, citing the PFC’s ongoing investigation.

“I have heard nothing from either the PFC nor attorney Sam Hall and I have given them plenty of time to respond to me,” Leist said. “I am done waiting. This is so a violation of our civil rights.”

Froom said she has “uncovered new evidence” about the police investigation. She said filled out “a new official 22-page complaint document with this new discovery of evidence along with addition items” on April 5 in response to chief Bliven “requesting ‘no new information coming in’ on March 28,” said Froom. “Respecting Chief Bliven’s request I filled a new complaint form out with the WPD and the PFC. I also requested that the PFC send me acknowledgement they have received it, (but) to date no acknowledgement has been made.”

Leist also said she filed a “7-page written document with questions regarding Chief Bliven’s update at the March 28th meeting” but has heard no response from anyone. 

Eliana died Oct. 7, 2020, roughly two weeks after she collapsed at a Wausau home where she was staying with her father. Though a medical examiner’s report shows Eliana died of natural causes, her mother and Leist dispute that finding and allege the girl was a victim of neglect at the hands of her father.

Both women filed complaints in December with the PFC alleging a shoddy and questionable investigation by the officers involved. The complaints also name Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven.

“I want the public to know this and ask those questions themselves,” Leist said, referring to their complaints and the PFC’s handling of the matter. “I have been seeking an attorney to assist me in filing a civil rights violation against them (PFC and Hall).”

The next meeting of the Police and Fire Commission is on Monday, April 25 at 7.30 a.m.