No Federal Charges for Officers Who Fatally Shot Homeless Man Over Stolen Coffee

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The Saginaw, Michigan police officers who fatally fired 47 shots at a homeless mentally ill man who, having identified himself and informed them that he had called 911 for protection from them, was walking away.  Hall’s mother filed a federal lawsuit, claiming “Hall’s call … went unheeded while (the officers) on the scene, without provocation, rapidly, recklessly, and needlessly elevated through the force continuum, culminating with deadly force being used by (the officers).”

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Of further interest:
Police Fire At Mentally Ill Man 47 Times, Killing Him — But They Won’t Face Charges (ThinkProgress)
Saginaw officers who shot and killed Milton Hall won’t face federal charges (M Live)
Milton Hall’s mother files wrongful death lawsuit against Saginaw, nine police officers (M Live)

From the article:

“The incident began when Hall, who Davis (Hall’s mother’s lawyer) writes “suffered from serious mental illness,” stole a cup of coffee from a nearby gas station.

“He was well known to the police officers of Saginaw prior to July 1, 2012, as a person with a mental illness,” Davis writes. “Hall had been approached, contacted, and/or detained by officers of the city on several occasions without incident prior to this date, largely as a result of behaviors related to his illness. As a result, (the officers) knew or should have known of his disability and had a duty to accommodate that disability in their dealings with him.”

“In the complaint, Davis writes that then-Saginaw Police Sgt. Anajanette “A.J.” Wojciechowski responded to the parking lot first, and dispatched to fellow officers that Hall was not “looking so nice,” requested assistance, and stated “without provocation or reason, that if the other officers did not respond promptly, she was “going to have to shoot this guy.”

“When the other officers — Patrick Busch, Jeremy Holden, Bradley Holp, Nicholas Olivo, Roger Pate, Richard Thompson, and Jeffrey Wenzell, each of whom are listed as defendants in the lawsuit — arrived, they “immediately surrounded Hall with their weapons drawn and aimed at him,” Davis writes. Wenzell, the attorney continues, “repeatedly and aggressively taunted and threatened Hall with a police dog, which frightened and agitated him further.”

“Hall, Davis writes, called 911 and requested a police supervisor be dispatched to the parking lot because he was surrounded and was defending himself with a pocket knife.

“Hall’s call … went unheeded while (the officers) on the scene, without provocation, rapidly, recklessly, and needlessly elevated through the force continuum, culminating with deadly force being used by (the officers),” Davis writes.”

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]