MADISON, Wis. — State Sen. Lena Taylor used a racial slur against a Milwaukee bank teller and was acting aggressively before being cited for disorderly conduct, according to police reports released Friday.
The reports released to The Associated Press and other news organizations quote multiple witnesses saying they heard Taylor, who is black, call a Wells Fargo bank teller, who is also black, a "good house (N-word)."
Taylor refuted those accounts, telling police she called the teller a "house negro," the reports said. Police also said they had to step between Taylor and the teller for fear Taylor would "strike out" at her.
The confrontation on April 6 came after a dispute over cashing an $825 check. Taylor told police she was at the bank to cash the check from a tenant in one of several Milwaukee properties she owns, but Taylor did not have an account at the bank. She wanted to verify that the person who wrote the check had enough money in their account to cash it, but the teller declined to tell her, citing bank policy, the reports said.
The teller told Taylor she had to sign the back of the check to cash it, but Taylor refused.
The newly released reports said Taylor was speaking loudly, acting aggressively, pointing at bank workers and demanding to speak to a manager.
The Milwaukee city attorney is prosecuting Taylor for disorderly conduct. Taylor pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a pretrial appearance on Aug. 1.
Taylor's attorney, Vince Bobot, said Friday he hopes to settle the case before the court appearance. He declined to comment on what a positive resolution would be. The civil citation carries a potential $195 fine.
"This has been quite a situation for her," Bobot said. "It's on every radio station, news media and TV station. I don't think it's been very complimentary."
Bobot said Taylor disagreed with how the reports described the incident, but he declined to specify which portions she refuted. Taylor referred questions to Bobot. Later Friday afternoon she issued a three-sentence statement saying she police and the media aren't treating her fairly.
"The police report and subsequent coverage, in certain media outlets, continues a consistent pattern of unfair treatment and a misrepresentation of the facts when dealing with African-Americans, especially those who vigorously advocate for themselves and their community," she said.
She didn't elaborate.
The police have bank security video from the day of the incident as well as footage from police body cams, but none of that has been released. The reports say the footage shows Taylor's "disorderly actions."
Taylor, 51, has been in the Legislature since 2003.