Mich. police reprimanded over homeless man's death

AP News
Posted: Sep 21, 2012 2:40 PM
Mich. police reprimanded over homeless man's death

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — A Saginaw police supervisor has been demoted and two officers have been disciplined for their roles in the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding, mentally ill homeless man in a parking lot, city officials said Friday.

The on-scene supervisor during the July 1 shooting of Milton Hall, 49, was reprimanded and demoted to the rank of patrolman, Acting Police Chief Brian Lipe said, and the two officers being disciplined received reprimands for not following the department's mobile video and audio policy.

The command officer "failed to take command and control of the situation," Lipe said at a news conference. Some patrol car video was working, but some in-car audio wasn't turned on and some of the microphones worn by the officers didn't have working batteries, he said.

The officers involved all will return to active duty, said Lipe, who defended the officers' overall response. Their names weren't released.

"Mr. Hall didn't just have something in his hand that day," Lipe said. "He had a deadly weapon."

According to investigators, Hall refused to drop a knife and six officers fired 46 shots at him, hitting him 11 times. Video taken on another witness's cellphone and later obtained by CNN showed Hall collapsing in a hail of gunfire after police ordered him to drop the knife.

The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Conyers protested the killing and called for the officers to be punished.

City officials said Friday that they hoped community members upset about the shooting would be able to come together following the review. Some critics, however, expressed disappointment that none of the officers were fired.

"You all had the audacity to come in here and tell us we need to go forward," the Rev. Cirven Merrill said, according to MLive.com. "Going forward to us is firing those ... officers who shot Milton Hall."

Prosecutors and state officials announced this month that none of the officers would face criminal charges. The task force that reviewed the officers' conduct was appointed by City Manager Darnell Earley. An initial announcement about the discipline was made Thursday.

"There are people who will feel the discipline of three officers is not justice," Mayor Greg Branch said. "But it is the extent of justice within the laws applicable to this venue."