Wisconsin Man Fatally Shot in Police Standoff at Motorcyle Shop Was a Hostage, Lawyer Says

Michael Funk, 60, worked at Eagle Nation Cycles

Photo: Ron Page/The Post-Crescent/AP

A 60-year-old Wisconsin man who was fatally shot during a police standoff at a motorcycle shop was a hostage attempting to escape the shooter, a lawyer representing the man’s family tells PEOPLE.

The victim was identified as Michael Funk, who worked at Eagle Nation Cycles, where the alleged hostage situation occurred Saturday morning. Cole J. White, the attorney representing Funk’s family, says Funk had previously filed a $50 million lawsuit against the police and the city over a 2012 raid at the motorcycle shop.

“It is a sad situation because Mike was terrified of law enforcement after what happened in 2012,” says White. “He was petrified that they were going to do something to hurt him again. And in a horrible tragic twist he was absolutely right.”

‘They Killed an Innocent Person”

Police went to the motorcycle shop around 9 a.m. Saturday after a call came in that a man had fired at least one shot and had taken hostages, according to the Post-Crescent Media. Police stormed the building to rescue the hostages, but were forced to retreat after getting fired upon. One of the officers was shot in the helmet, the paper reports.

Police said a short time later Funk left the motorcycle shop allegedly carrying a gun. He purportedly refused to drop his weapon and was subsequently shot. Police said they didn’t know if the shooter had also fired at Funk, according to the Post-Crescent Media.

“We believe Funk was able to get one of the guns away from the gunman and fled the building only to be met with a volley of gunfire by the police,” White says. “Police said he refused to drop his weapon in his hand. The thing that is not getting covered enough is Mike Funk had hearing loss. There had been gunfire by his head so he probably couldn’t hear what the police were saying to him.”

Adding: “I don t believe he was using or holding the weapon in any way that could have been construed as threatening to law enforcement,” says White. “I don t believe he would have done anything that would have given the police a legitimate reason to be fearful of him. We believe they overreacted and assessed the threat wrongly and killed an innocent person.”

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An Ongoing Dispute

About four hours after the hostage standoff started, police arrested 45-year-old suspect Brian Flatoff. Flatoff is being held in the Winnebago Jail on a unrelated charge of recklessly endangering safety with a firearm for an incident that occurred prior to the hostage standoff.

According to a probable cause statement obtained by PEOPLE, Flatoff was “very drunk and fell several times” the night before the hostage takedown. “Victim told defendant to lay down or she would call 911,” the report states. Flatoff allegedly became enraged, grabbed a gun and straddled the victim’s legs.

“Defendant told victim that he can’t handle going back to prison and fired one round from the gun into the wall above the victims head,” the report states. “Defendant left the house to go to the Eagle Nation Motorcycle Shop.”

Psychological Trauma

White claims Eagle Nation Cycles was raided in 2012 after the police allegedly witnessed a drug transaction outside the shop. During the raid, Funk suffered back injuries and psychological trauma, he says.

“The police held him in that raid, which ultimately resulted in no charges against him,” says White. “They didn’t find any evidence of the crimes they alleged. They portrayed Eagle Nation as this outlaw biker gang that was manufacturing heroin and methamphetamine and distributing it to the neighborhood and they found no evidence of that. It was not true.”

The Winnebago County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the incident. The Neenah Police Department didn’t return PEOPLE’s call for comment.

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