Independent investigation findings in death of Michael Bell handed over to Feds

KENOSHA — Michael Bell Jr. was killed by Kenosha police. His family reached a settlement over two years ago, but they had an independent investigation done, looking into their son’s 2004 death. On Tuesday, November 27th, findings from that investigation were handed over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In November of 2004, Kenosha police said an officer stopped Bell on suspicion of drunk driving. Outside the car, an officer alleged Bell grabbed for a gun. That’s when another officer put his gun to Bell’s head and pulled the trigger. 

The Bell family says they caught officers in a lie. The Bell family says officers reported they shot Bell in the left side of his head, when a Medical Examiner report ruled otherwise. 

An internal police investigation ruled the shooting justified.

“It is apparent the Kenosha Police Department, in order to protect the image of their department, chose to participate in and cover up a criminal act rather than tarnish the image of their department,” Bell’s father, Michael Bell Sr. said.

The Bell family now hopes for federal criminal charges against the officers and their supervisors. Retired Kenosha Detective Russell Beckman was asked whether he saw officers pressured into lying.

“I really don’t want to disclose it in this venue because I, at some point, will disclose it to the Feds, but I really don’t think it’s appropriate for me to discuss it right here,” Beckman said.

In 2010, the Bell family reached a $1.75 million settlement with the city of Kenosha, but the Bell family says the big check did not bring justice.

Kenosha police declined to comment on this story. 

Bell has used much of the settlement money on the smoking gun billboards seen across southeastern Wisconsin. He says he’s working with a state lawmaker on a bill creating an independent board that would review all police shootings in Wisconsin.

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