MILWAUKEE -- Three Milwaukee aldermen are calling on Police Chief Ed Flynn to take questions from the public, following criticism over the way his department handled an investigation into the fatal shooting of 13 year-old Darius Simmons.
A public forum on the Simmons investigation grew heated Thursday evening, when more than 50 people stormed out chanting. They were angry that Chief Flynn left the meeting before public comment began. A police spokeswoman told Fox 6 that Flynn left to attend a citizen's academy graduation.
Attorney Jon Safran attended the meeting on behalf of the victim's mother.
"I certain expected, like most people, that he was going to stay," said Safran.
Safran and other question whether police could have been more compassionate with the young victim's mom during their investigation.
Speaking to FOX6 News exclusively before the meeting, Flynn responded to criticism that police kept the boy's mother in a squad car after the shooting, rather than let her stay with her son.
"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. That requires us to follow protocols that demand we get an uncontaminated, fresh statement from eye witnesses. Tragically, in this case the critical eye witness was Mom," said Flynn.
Alderwoman Milele Coggs, Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, and Alderman Jose Perez released this statement on Friday.
"In the wake of last night’s public meeting atRufus KingHigh Schoolabout the Milwaukee Police Department’s handling of the Darius Simmons homicide investigation, we are calling on Chief Flynn to appear before the Equal Rights Commission to answer questions publicly about the case.
We were in attendance at last night’s meeting, and it was very disappointing to have Chief Flynn suddenly announce that he had to leave to attend another event – right at the time when members of the community were preparing to ask the Chief questions about the Simmons case. The meeting at Rufus King had been planned weeks in advance, and it seems quite clear to us that the Chief decided he wanted to duck out without facing the people who wanted to ask him questions.
As public servants we know that opportunities for communication and information exchange with residents are critically important, because they offer the chance for healing and understanding on sensitive issues. In this instance, we think a very real opportunity at fostering communication and understanding – and perhaps, healing – was lost."
The victim's next door neighbor, 75-year-old John Spooner has been arrested and charged with the teen's murder. Spooner has pleaded not guilty.
The Milwaukee Police Department did not respond to Fox 6's request for comment Friday.