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Misunderstood: Mike Milano tells his side of the story

By Luke Pasch, Daily Sports Editor
Published December 11, 2011

Milano recalled how they drank and danced away the disappointment that follows any Michigan loss on the gridiron, and they stayed until last call.

When the lights came on, the group went up the stairs and loitered on Church Street, wondering where to head next.

That’s when Kampfer arrived with his friend Mike Anderson.

Kampfer and Theuner-Rego had had an on-again-off-again relationship, and Milano suggested Kampfer was upset that Thuener-Rego didn’t return his phone calls that evening.

Thuener-Rego’s housemates, then-LSA seniors Melissa Karner and Katie Smith, said in witness reports that Thuener-Rego was purposefully flirting with Milano in front of Kampfer outside of the bar to make Kampfer jealous. They also mentioned that this was not uncommon for her.

Several interview requests to Theuner-Rego were not returned.

Reports say Kampfer approached Thuener-Rego and pulled her aside to have a discussion across the street from Rick’s.

Most of Milano’s friends — including Thuener-Rego’s housemates — walked home during the exchange. Milano, his brother Chris and his friend Brandon Hahn were left, and they decided to wait for Thuener-Rego before going home. Anderson also waited with them.

Moments later, the group looked back across the street. According to later testimonies — including Anderson’s — Kampfer had Thuener-Rego’s shoulders pinned up against the vinyl fencing on the left side of 624 Church St., just 100 feet north of the intersection of Church and Willard Streets. In the next instant, witness reports said she was on the ground, though none could confirm how she ended up there.

“We saw Steve being really aggressive toward Tatjana,” Chris said in an interview last month. “From where I saw, she was on the ground crying, obviously not comfortable with what was going on. He was kind of standing over her.”

Milano added that Kampfer “had her by both wrists, kind of yanking her off the ground.” Milano decided he must intervene, despite warnings from Anderson to not get involved.

As he walked across the street to confront Kampfer, who had also been drinking heavily that night (medical records state he had a blood-alcohol content of about .15 at 3:55 a.m.), Thuener-Rego reportedly escaped and fled through a parking lot behind the house. All reports confirm that she did not witness the ensuing events.

Though none of the witness accounts match up on exactly how the exchange followed, reports were clear that Milano approached Kampfer out of concern for Thuener-Rego, and language escalated between the two until expletives were exchanged.

After about a minute, it didn’t appear that a physical altercation was developing, and all five decided to walk home, heading south on Church Street. Reports confirm that Kampfer and Anderson walked in front, while the Milano brothers and Hahn were behind them. Their houses were in the same general direction.

They didn’t get too far. Just a couple hundred feet south from Kampfer’s original confrontation with Thuener-Rego, along the east wall of East Quad Residence Hall, the jawing between Milano and Kampfer resumed.

Milano said he doesn’t remember what the trigger was, but Kampfer was fed up and turned around to confront Milano face-to-face, calling him a “cocksucker” as he turned. Anderson later confirmed that as well.

The gap between the two closed quickly.

Anderson’s testimony, as well as independent witness reports of Ann Arbor residents Nick Nedick and Zach Plachety, concur that Kampfer and Milano were facing each other before making physical contact. It did not appear that Milano had instigated a physical confrontation by attacking Kampfer from behind.

Milano, his brother and Hahn claimed they saw Kampfer cock his arm to take a swing. But he never landed it, and within seconds, Kampfer laid on the ground concussed.

“He lunged at me,” Milano said last month. “For me, I just lowered my level and went right through his hips. A double-leg takedown, or a football tackle, if you don’t know wrestling.”

All reports said Milano stood up and immediately left the scene with his brother and Hahn, unaware of the extent of Kampfer’s injuries. There was no further fighting.

Kampfer, who was hospitalized with a concussion and occipital skull fracture from hitting the back of his head on the sidewalk, faced a daunting road to recovery.