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Badger Guns Found Liable for Negligence in Milwaukee Police Shooting

by Erik Ortiz /  / Updated 

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One of the nation's biggest sellers of crime-linked guns was found liable for negligence Tuesday in the case of two Milwaukee officers wounded by one of the shop's firearms.

Jurors in Milwaukee County have ordered Badger Guns to pay almost $6 million to Officer Bryan Norberg and now-retired Officer Graham Kunisch, who were both shot in the face while in the line of duty in 2009.

Related: Closing Arguments Made in Trial of Gun Shop Over Cops' Wounds

The two officers sued for negligence, alleging that the West Milwaukee gun shop should have known that the gun eventually used in the shooting was initially sold as part of a "straw" purchase. In those cases, someone buys the gun on behalf of someone else who is not legally permitted to purchase a gun.

Badger Guns was also previously called Badger Outdoors, and at times was the No. 1 seller of firearms used in crimes in the U.S. — moving 537 guns that were recovered from crime scenes in 2005 alone, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Norberg and Kunisch weren't the only members of the police force injured by a gun bought at Badger: Between 2007 and 2009, six Milwaukee cops were hurt by guns sold by Badger Guns or Badger Outdoors, according to the suit.

Kunisch himself was shot several times by a gun-toting bicyclist in a 2009 attack, losing an eye and suffering a brain injury. He had to retire from the police department, he said.

Jurors on Tuesday ordered Badger to pay him $3.6 million, Norberg $1.5 million, plus another $730,000 in punitive damages.

The case has been a rare trialpitting law enforcement against a gun seller, and has been in the public spotlight after Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton mentioned it on the campaign trail as part of her call for gun reform.

An attorney for the two officers said Tuesday that he hopes the case can change the way guns are sold in straw purchases.

"I would hope so. That might be asking for too much," attorney Patrick Dunphy said after the trial concluded. "One verdict in Milwaukee is a good step. Time will tell."

Milwaukee police officer Bryan Norberg, right, and Officer Graham Kunisch in a Milwaukee courtroom testifying against Badger Gun Store where a illegally purchased gun was used to  shoot both officers during an arrest.
Milwaukee police officer Bryan Norberg, right, and Officer Graham Kunisch in a Milwaukee courtroom testifying against Badger Gun Store where a illegally purchased gun was used to shoot both officers during an arrest.NBC News

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