Eric Pizer (Task & Purpose photo illustration)

Eric Pizer is a father, a college graduate with an associate degree in criminal justice and a decorated Iraq War veteran who has always wanted to be a police officer.

But for the past almost 15 years, Pizer, 38, has also been a felon.

When Pizer was 23, two days after he got back from being deployed in Iraq, he tried to de-escalate a drunken argument between his friend and a jealous husband after a night of drinking in the town in Boscobel in southwestern Wisconsin. Pizer said he and his friends didn't know one of the women with whom they were hanging out was married.

After Pizer heard the husband say, "I'm going to … kill you," Pizer threw one punch and broke the man's nose, resulting in the substantial battery charge. He had no prior criminal record and hasn't committed any crimes since.

Pizer said it was a "knee-jerk reaction" and that he "didn't think about it, it just happened." He still regrets the moment and is deeply remorseful for the pain he caused.

Since then, Pizer has gotten forgiveness from the man he punched, but the felony has tainted others' view of his character, caused tension in his relationships, prevented him from starting a career and disallowed him from being able to carry a firearm, which he would need to fulfill his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer.

"I've always been who I am," said Pizer, of Edgerton. "And that felony is not who I am."

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(Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse)

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