MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee’s police chief defended how his officers investigated the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy, saying police protocol has to focus on effectiveness over compassion.
Several local groups, along with the Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition called for an investigation into how police handled Simmons’ murder investigation, after Simmons’ mother, who witnessed her son’s murder, was reportedly held in a police squad car at the scene for two hours. They also expressed concern over Simmons’ older brother being detained at the scene for an outstanding warrant, and officers reportedly leaving Simmons’ home in disarray after searching it on the day of Simmons’ murder.
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn told reporters Wednesday, June 13th that he met with community groups to ease their concerns, and that everything involved with the Simmons’ homicide investigation was done by the books.
Chief Flynn said that the top priority of a homicide investigator is to get the facts immediately. That can mean keeping grieving family members apart, because police don’t want witnesses talking to each other.
“We have one chance at a homicide investigation to get a fresh, uncontaminated, unadulterated statements immediately after the incident, and that is as soon as we get there. We photographed every single room (in the home) that we searched afterwards. Those photographs exist. They’ll be available for examination at trial. They clearly show nobody’s house was trashed,” Flynn said.
Flynn says the investigators’ main concern during a homicide investigation is getting a conviction, and it’s unfortunate that some investigative techniques seem uncompassionate.
MICAH (Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope), the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP, along with representatives of Simmons’ family all attended the meeting with Chief Flynn. MICAH’s president, Rev. Willie Brisco said their worries about the case were alleviated, but there’s still more work to do.
“We want to work with the police and we want to form a relationship with them that will let us understand more what they do, so that we can become more a part of the crime fighting in this community,” Rev. Brisco said.
The Milwaukee Urban League was also represented at the meeting. They said they too felt they had a better understanding of why detectives made the decisions they did at the scene. The Urban League said they hope Chief Flynn will hold similar meetings with the community at large, to explain police procedures and why they are in place.