Simmons’ family pastor critical of Fire and Police Commission report
MILWAUKEE — A Fire and Police Commission report into the shooting death of 13-year-old Darius Simmons indicates no rules were broken by the Milwaukee Police Department during their on-scene investigation. Simmons was shot and killed allegedly by his 75-year-old neighbor, John Spooner. The case drew criticism for MPD after Simmons’ mother claimed police mistreated her immediately after her son was shot. The Simmons’ family pastor is criticizing that Fire and Police Commission report — saying the Commission is not holding police accountable for their actions.
Simmons’ was gunned down on May 31st. Spooner has pleaded not guilty to first degree intentional homicide in the case.
Police say Spooner admitted to shooting and killing Simmons from just a few feet away. Spooner is accused of confronting the teen as Simmons was taking out the trash. Officials have said Spooner’s home was burglarized and items were taken, including some shotguns. Spooner reportedly believed “his next-door neighbor” was to blame.
According to court documents, when Simmons’ mother told Spooner they didn’t have his stuff and weren’t responsible for burglarizing his home, she says the man pulled out a gun and shot her son.
Simmons’ mother, Patricia Larry claims she was mistreated by Milwaukee police during the initial investigation. She says she was detained in the back of a squad car for several hours — and Simmons’ brother was taken into custody by Milwaukee police officers for municipal warrants.
“Alleges the concerns of how the police department treated her after they came on the scene and arrested Mr. Spooner — including that she was kept in the back of a squad car for a significant period of time without her having the ability to talk to family members or friends to find out how her son was. She witnessed her son being shot and killed. She was literally on the street holding him as he was dying, and then for her to be put in a squad car, not to be told anything, having her home searched — all those things added insult to injury,” Jon Safran, the attorney for Simmons’ mother said.
Safran has filed a notice of claim related to the case — the first step in potentially filing a lawsuit.
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn has discussed those allegations, saying officers at the scene followed protocol by isolating and interviewing Simmons’ mother because she was a witness to a homicide.
“We`re obviously going to look at the timeline of that investigation. As a general principle, when somebody`s murdered, our first duty is to bring justice to the victim and that requires us to slow a scene down and get the best, most accurate, immediate account from eyewitnesses. We have one chance at a homicide investigation to get a fresh, uncontaminated, unadulterated statement immediately after the incident, and that is as soon as we get there. I`ll certainly look and see how we conducted ourselves at this time,” Chief Flynn said.
Safran points to a specific comment made by Chief Flynn as the investigation continued as causing concern. Chief Flynn said: “Six months from now, when our detectives are on the witness stand, nobody is going to care how compassionate they were at the crime scene.”
The Fire and Police Commission issued a ten-page public statement on Friday, October 5th regarding the Simmons’ investigation. It says officers with the Milwaukee Police Department did not violate procedures during that investigation.
CLICK HERE to view the entire report on the Simmons’ case, issued by the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.
Reverand Steve Jerbi with All Peoples Church in Milwaukee — the Simmons’ family’s pastor, says the report did not hold the police department accountable for their treatment of Larry.
“This is truly a case where innocence is lost, and lost in totality. Compassion is not something that is taught in training. Compassion is something that is developed as a culture. Right now, we are not seeing a culture of compassion in the department,” Jerbi said.
Jerbi says the Fire and Police Commission did not allow enough public comment before or after releasing their report and says he seeks changes in their organization as well.
“I think folks wanted a little more than 30 seconds from the Fire and Police Commission. We wanted a little more in depth. Once again, the community voices are being shut out by the system that’s in place. There needs to be sounding boards. There needs to be places where the community can speak,” Jerbi said.
Jerbi is among a coalition of community members and faith leaders seeking Flynn’s resignation. Chief Flynn has told the group he will not step down.
The Milwaukee Police Department issued the following statement following the release of the Fire and Police Commission’s report:
“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.”
CLICK HERE for additional coverage on the Darius Simmons’ case via FOX6Now.com.