MILWAUKEE -- There was a gathering Monday evening, March 20th at the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting that happened on Thursday, March 16th. 32-year-old Jermaine Claybrooks was killed near 19th and Stark on Thursday, March 16th, and his family wants to know why deadly force was necessary.
Milwaukee police have said Claybrooks, a known drug dealer, was the focus of a drug investigation involving Milwaukee police, West Allis police and the DEA. The officer-involved shooting happened when undercover officers tried to arrest him on Thursday evening. A witness said a police SUV bumped Claybrooks' car, and Claybrooks' car ran into a tree and began smoking, the tires still spinning.
Police said they tried to arrest Claybrooks, but observed he was armed with a handgun, at this point shots were fired. A gun was recovered.
Claybrooks' family has questioned the extent of the force used by officers. They don't dispute the fact that he was a drug dealer, but multiple cell phone videos recorded by neighbors have led the family to question whether he was really given an opportunity to surrender.
"He had tinted windows. The man never stepped out of the car. He was dead on sight," Nate Beverly, a neighbor said.
"Why did they have to constantly shoot him? Consistently? Now if I'm stuck like this, how can I get out of the car?" a friend of Claybrooks' family said.
His family has enlisted the help of community activists to get their message out. They said they believe Claybrooks was wrongfully killed.
This is the first officer-involved shooting to be investigated by the Milwaukee County Suburban Investigations Team -- led by the Wauwatosa Police Department. Wauwatosa police said Monday, March 20th this continues to be an ongoing investigation, and they do not anticipate releasing any additional information until the investigation is complete, and the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office has reviewed the case.
"He was the subject of a drug investigation and like I said, that is not being disputed. What's being disputed is the chance of him getting the opportunity to face trial. That's why we're here. That's why the community is here. We have to investigate ourselves and we have to make sure that we understand. We have to talk to witnesses too. We can do our own investigating. We can also hope that we can challenge the system to operate correctly," Tory Lowe, community activist said.
"They took away a son, a great father, a loving fiancé, a friend, an uncle," a friend of Claybrooks' family said.
The officers involved in this case have been placed on administrative duties as is standard procedure.