Mentally ill homeless black man shot at 46 times by US police
from various sources – October 2017
submitted by – Neelam Bi & Falak Bibi
Updates listed at the foot of this item
Milton Hall, aged 49 years old, was a man struggling with homelessness and mental illness when he was shot and killed by six US police in broad daylight after they fired a barrage of 46 bullets as he held a penknife, graphic footage revealed. Milton was surrounded by up to eight officers training their guns on him in a shopping centre car park in Saginaw, Michigan, on 1 July 2012.
He had been arguing with police officers after an alleged altercation with a shop assistant for several minutes and the video shows him refusing an officer’s demand to put down the small knife he was holding. After a tense stand-off he appeared to step forward and police opened fire.
The video footage taken by a bystander shows Milton falling down almost immediately and lie on the ground with no movement. As he lay bleeding, the officers are seen attempting to handcuff his lifeless arms and also dragging his body along the ground. One officer appeared to kick him in the back.
Onlookers were very shocked, and they could be heard shouting at police officers after the shooting. One of the onlookers was asking “why did they have to shoot him so many times?” The officers who discharged their weapons later said that they did so because they believed Milton posed an imminent threat to their safety.
The death of yet another black man at the hands of white police officers sparked protests and calls for the officers who shot him to face criminal charges. But the country prosecutor and Department of Justice declined to bring charges against them, accepting that the action was justified in the face of a justifiable threat.
Milton was ‘known’ to authorities for committing previous offences, a police spokesman said at the time, but his family said he had only committed minor crimes which were non-violent in nature.
More than two years after the killing, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released footage obtained from the Hall family’s lawyers and used it as part of its testimony before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in order to put pressure on the federal government. While a bystander video was shown on CNN shortly after the shooting, the newly released dashcam video shows the incident with unprecedented detail.
The officers fired 46 shots in a matter of seconds, hitting Milton 14 times. Once on the ground, an officer turned him over, handcuffed him, and put his foot on Hall’s back.
Milton’s mother said; “As a civilian, Mr. Hall had every right to expect that the police would protect his life, but instead, he was the target of what resembled in many ways a firing squad,” Mark Fancher, a lawyer with the ACLU of Michigan, said; “The government cannot act as if the life of a homeless black man has no value. Saginaw deserves justice not only for Milton Hall, but for the entire community that has been devastated by this inexplicable act of police violence.”
His mother, Jewel Hall, described her son’s death as “an assassination” by a “firing squad dressed in uniforms”. Mrs Hall is now working with other families bereaved by police shootings and campaigning for changes to laws governing the police use of deadly force.
The aftermath of the shooting sparked outrage among many citizens, causing Saginaw city leaders, the Police Department and a citizens group to form a police advisory board. The incident also garnered national attention bringing Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton to Saginaw to visit the site where Milton Hall was killed.
A Federal news release said that state authorities had collected the physical evidence at the scene, taken photographs of the scene, interviewed the two non-shooting officers and dozens of eyewitnesses. Authorities also acquired the patrol car dashcam and civilian videos of the incident; gathered the dispatch logs, 911 calls and other investigative materials related to the incident.
In addition to reviewing that evidence, FBI agents also interviewed a number of witnesses who had not been spoken to during the state’s investigation, including individuals whose names were provided to prosecutors by Milton’s family.
In 2014 federal authorities determined that there was insufficient evidence of wilful misconduct to lead to a federal criminal prosecution of the police officers involved,” a news release stated.
Milton’s family subsequently filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city and nine police officers in the US District Court in Bay City seeking “full and fair compensation” as well as punitive damages.
In March 2014 the family settled the case for $725,000, according to Saginaw attorney, Debra Freid. She said that the Hall’s “primary motivation was to make sure that this never happens to another family,” Freid went on to say; “The amount was never the central issue for Jewel (Milton’s mother), The fact that it’s a very substantial amount is important to her because it means the city of Saginaw recognizes that Milton Hall, her son, was a person of value notwithstanding his mental illness.”.