MILWAUKEE — Anger erupted at a Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission meeting Thursday evening July 12th. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn addressed the committee and members of the public in a special meeting to discuss the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Darius Simmons. Flynn spoke to the crowd about the police investigation, but exited before the public comment session began.
Simmons was shot May 31st in front of his home in the 1900 block of W. Arrow. Simmons’ neighbor, 75-year-old John Spooner has been charged with and pleaded guilty to first degree homicide in the case. Prosecutors say Spooner thought Simmons had stolen firearms from his home.
There has been some criticism of the Milwaukee Police Department’s handling of the investigation. Simmons’ family says police kept the boy’s mother in a squad car, rather than let her hold her son or join him at the hospital following the shooting. Simmons’ family also says their home was ransacked by officers during the investigation.
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn has defended his department’s investigation, saying everything involved with the Simmons’ homicide investigation was done by the books.
Flynn said that the top priority of a homicide investigator is to get the facts immediately, and get a conviction, and it’s unfortunate that some investigative techniques seem uncompassionate.
“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,” Flynn said.
Many expressed their anger after Flynn excited Thursday’s meeting, and over half the audience walked out after Flynn left. They identified themselves as members of the “Occupy the Hood Milwaukee” movement and say they wanted the chance to talk with Flynn about the case.
“We will not continue to allow them to come to these meetings and speak and then leave. That is unacceptable! We are demanding a full investigation for Darius Simmons in this homicide and how MPD interacted with Mom and the family and the community,” an “Occupy the Hood Milwaukee” leader said at the meeting.
Jon Saffron, the attorney for the victim’s mother spoke out at Thursday’s meeting as well.
“I can tell you that respect, dignity and compassion should be paramount as professional police officers conduct an investigation,” Saffron said.
Chief Flynn spoke exclusively with FOX6 News prior to Thursday night’s meeting regarding the criticism of the department’s handling of the Simmons investigation.
“We recognize that it`s an issue of community concern. It has to be kept in mind that at the scene of a homicide, our absolute first responsibility is to the victim and to do justice to the victim and that requires us to follow protocols that demand we get an uncontaminated fresh statement from eyewitnesses and tragically in this case the critical eyewitness was mom,” Chief Flynn said.
Chief Flynn also denied claims Simmons’ home was ransacked by police while they searched for the allegedly stolen firearms, which were not found.
Chief Flynn said because of his officers’ actions at the scene and in the investigation, there is a stronger case for Spooner’s prosecution.
“I think it`s fair to say that there are people here tonight with agendas other than justice for Darius Simmons. There are people here who are representing themselves as community spokesmen who are far from it, but they have something to say and I expect they`ll draw some attention to themselves,” Chief Flynn said.
A Milwaukee Police Department spokeswoman told FOX6 News Flynn exited the meeting to attend the Citizen’s Academy graduation — an event that has been on his calendar for months.
Chief Flynn addressed the media back in June regarding his department’s handling of the Simmons’ case, and the criticisms. (See the video link posted below.)