MILWAUKEE COUNTY (WITI) — A 27-year-old Milwaukee man facing criminal charges following an officer-involved shooting that occurred early March 19th near 16th and Center will stand trial.
The accused is Jerimy Whitelaw. He is charged with three felonies: attempted first degree intentional homicide (two counts), and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Whitelaw was in court on Tuesday, April 7th, where he pleaded not guilty and was bound over for trial.
It was just before 2:30 a.m. on March 19th when two Milwaukee police officers were on patrol in uniform and in a marked squad. They observed two people loitering in the roadway/crosswalk at the intersection of 17th and Center. Police say it appeared as though a hand-to-hand drug transaction was occurring.
Based on their observations, the officers decided to conduct a field interview.
As one officer exited the squad, the second officer noticed Jerimy Whitelaw was about 10-15 feet from the squad, and the officer believed Whitelaw was going to flee on foot.
An officer tried to talk to Whitelaw, at which point police say Whitelaw raised his arm up to eye level and began shooting towards the officer.
A witness told police he believes Whitelaw discharged his firearm “three to four times.”
An officer pursued Whitelaw into a yard near 16th and Center — where Whitelaw again pointed and discharged his weapon, police say. Fearing that Whitelaw’s behavior and actions would kill him, an officer then discharged his .40 caliber service weapon at Whitelaw.
Investigators say Whitelaw continued to flee, and the officer continued to pursue him. Eventually, Whitelaw fell, and the two officers attempted and struggled to take him into custody. A third officer arrived on scene and observed Whitelaw disregard numerous commands to put his hands behind his back. He was eventually placed into custody — and it was determined he suffered two gunshot wounds to his abdomen.
Prior to Whitelaw being taken to the hospital, during a search of his person, officers recovered a bag containing pills — oxycodone, oxycontin and MDMA/ecstasy. Police say Whitelaw didn’t have a prescription for any of these pills.
The gun Whitelaw had fired at officers, a Beretta .40 caliber firearm, was recovered by police in a yard near 16th and Center. Numerous .40 caliber casings (different from the ammunition used by the Milwaukee police officer) were recovered from the yard, and it was learned that a bullet fired by Whitelaw struck the squad car’s front passenger side door, police say.
A criminal complaint filed against him says Whitelaw is a convicted felon — having been convicted of possession of a short barreled shotgun/rifle in 2006 and felony escape in 2007. As a convicted felon, Whitelaw cannot possess firearms.
Whitelaw has an open case out of Milwaukee County in which he’s charged with possession with intent to deliver cocaine, filed in January 2014.
The officer who returned fire in this case is a 26-year-old male assigned to District 5 with four years of service with MPD. He was placed on administrative duty following this incident — as is protocol. Police said an outside agency would not investigate this use of force as the suspect’s injuries were not life-threatening.
Following this officer-involved shooting incident, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said exactly 30 years ago, two officers were killed in a similar situation near 17th and Center.
“It is a solemn day for us as we remember our fallen officers and keep their surviving families in our prayers, but today is also a day of gratitude as last night’s history failed to repeat itself in the most significant way. Our officers survived the encounter. Consistent with the pattern from 30 years ago, the suspect they arrested had an extensive criminal record. If I’ve got a message for the public it is when officers use deadly force, it’s the most stressful moment of their career. Every officer knows when they have to use deadly force they have to make a quick decision under enormous stress and if by any chance they are judged wrong by someone, people will want to put them in jail for trying to do their job. What I’d ask from the public is their willingness to withhold judgment until facts are made. This is the third police shooting in Milwaukee this month. All three were armed suspects risking other people’s lives! That’s the danger our officers face every day. That what’s on their mind.? They know they’re facing the most heavily armed society of any western democracy. Every day they know that. So I just ask the public to look upon their public servants with a base level of charity. Before you take to the streets, at the very least, wait for the facts to come out,” said Chief Flynn.
This incident is the third officer-involved shooting to occur in Milwaukee this year.
The first officer-involved shooting this month in Milwaukee happened on February 21st. An 18-year-old Milwaukee man was taken to the hospital after he was shot by a 21-year veteran of MPD near 10th and Concordia. That officer was placed on administrative duty, which is standard procedure. The DOJ was called upon to investigate this incident.
The second officer-involved shooting in Milwaukee occurred on March 9th at the Dollar General store on E. Locust Street. A 20-year-old Milwaukee man with an arrest record with MPD was shot by a seven-year veteran of MPD. The officer fired one shot, and police say the suspect then took his own weapon and shot himself. The suspect was taken to the hospital with very serious injuries. The officer was placed on administrative duty. The DOJ was called upon to investigate this incident.
Whitelaw will next be in court on April 15th.