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Murder Defendant Represents Himself, Gives Bizarre Opening Statement (WATCH)


A northeastern Wisconsin man facing murder charges gave a rambling opening statement Monday which pointed the finger at police corruption at local, state, and federal levels and suggested police both failed to turn over evidence and edited the evidence against him.

Brian Flatoff faces a total of sixteen charges related to a hostage situation which led to a man’s death. The charges include first-degree intentional homicide, felony murder, taking hostages, false imprisonment, failure to comply with an officer, felony firearms possession, bail jumping, and recklessly endangering safety.

According to a state investigation, Flatoff showed up at a motorcycle shop on December 5, 2015, fired a shot inside, and took hostages. Someone there called his brother, who in turn called 911. Officers went to the scene, determined the threat was real, and entered the shop through a back door. Inside, they say Flatoff fired shots at them. One officer was struck in the helmet. Officers returned fire and retreated. Inside, Flatoff reportedly told someone to shut the back door, but warned, “if you f–king run out that back door I’m going to f–king unload on you.” One of the hostages, Michael L. Funk, tried to make a run for it. Surveillance footage inside the store “appeared to show Flatoff firing his gun toward Funk as Funk exited the back door,” the state report said. As Funk left the building with a weapon, he turned towards officers, and officers shot him. He was on the ground for 45 minutes while the hostage situation unfolded. Others who exited the building followed officer commands and were not harmed. The time elapsed between when officers entered and when Funk was shot and killed was three minutes and forty seconds, the report states.

Flatoff refused to be represented by an attorney. Ten public defenders who attempted to work with him were dismissed before trial.

During opening statements, he was interrupted once by the judge, who told him to slow down because he was talking too fast for the court reporter; once by construction noises coming from the courthouse; and at least three times by objections from the state. Flatoff accused the state of failing to turn over evidence during discovery. The prosecutor objected, saying that the court had previously ruled that the state complied with all discovery requests. The state also objected when Flatoff said he suffered from PTSD.

Flatoff told jurors that his goal was to expose corruption, set the record straight, and tell the truth. He said corruption in law enforcement runs rampant at the local, state, and federal levels, and that “the truth” was his “defense.” He also said that the police were more crooked than criminals, and that there was no need for prisons because, if properly held in check, the corrupt police wouldn’t be able to convict anyone. He also said he didn’t have time during his trial to discuss every single law enforcement lie, but that he would discuss just what he considered the most flagrant lies. He told jurors that they would struggle to differentiate who the real criminals were: himself, or the police. He also said the police “manufactured” and “edited” evidence against him and called state-levelv investigatory documents both a “paper tiger” and “toilet paper.” At several times, Flatoff became emotional when talking about Funk being shot and killed. He also accused the police of lying to the press about him.

Funk had filed a $50 million federal lawsuit against the police regarding an unrelated raid on his motorcycle shop. Conspiracy theorists, and presumably also Flatoff, believe police were anxious to get rid of him.

[Image via court pool feed/Law&Crime Network.]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.