MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC) issued a ten-page public statement on Friday, October 5th regarding the investigation into the homicide of 13-year-old Darius Simmons. It says officers with the Milwaukee Police Department did not violate procedures during that investigation.
Simmons was shot and killed, allegedly by John Spooner, Simmons' neighbor, in a southside Milwaukee neighborhood on May 31st. Simmons was standing on the sidewalk in front of his home when he was confronted by Spooner. Spooner apparently demanded that Simmons return his stolen shotguns. Simmons responded that he did not have the shotguns. Investigators say Spooner then shot Simmons two times.
Simmons' mother, Patricia Larry, and brother were standing nearby when the shooting took place. Mrs. Larry was placed in a police car. His brother was arrested for municipal warrants.
After concerns were raised about how police handled the crime scene and dealt with the victims' family, the FPC conducted an investigation of its own.
The FPC report concludes the following...
- The MPD investigation was thorough and complete. The investigation resulted in the Milwaukee County District Attorney issuing charges of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide against Mr. Spooner.
- There were no rules, policies, or procedures that were violated by members of MPD as it pertains to the four (4) areas of community concern reviewed in this report. The issues that arose as a result of the investigation occurred within areas of department-authorized, discretionary decision-making.
- The MPD should review the methods in which investigative personnel are allocated to the scene of an active homicide investigation. The review could provide insight into methods to adjust the number of investigators when unique or unusual circumstances exist.
- The MPD should evaluate establishing a Standard Operating Instruction (SOI) for homicide investigations. The SOI could provide a mechanism for improved supervisory oversight of the discretionary decisions made by investigators on the scene.
- The SOI could also address the need for supervisors to consider the effects that their discretionary decisions have on community relations and the public’s trust of its police department.
- The MPD should review and significantly expand the existing training regimen pertaining to cultural awareness and general interpersonal communication. A primary objective of the training should be to continue to foster sensitivity to the full range of Public effects that an officer’s words, actions, and decisions have in their interactions with Milwaukee’s diverse community.
- “The Milwaukee Police Department hears the community’s concerns over the procedures used during the investigation of the homicide of Darius Simmons. We recognize that sometimes professional duty can appear to trump compassion, and that even though investigators were doing justice to the victim, they were not as attentive to the needs of Darius’ mother as they could have been. Police officers and detectives are proud to protect an extraordinarily diverse city. Our homicide detectives have an unmatched record of success in solving the murders of victims from every segment of our community. The members of the Milwaukee Police department remain committed to excellence and to continual improvement and accept the findings of the Fire and Police Commission in that spirit.”
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