MILWAUKEE -- A man arrested Wednesday, May 2 near 51st and Capitol in an incident caught on camera is being held on more than $12,000 bail. Family members gathered Sunday afternoon outside the Milwaukee County Jail to demand "justice for Demetrious."
Demetrious Lowe, 25, is being held on the below pending charges:
- Battery to law officers/firefighters (four counts)
- Resisting/obstructing an officer
- Disorderly conduct (domestic abuse)
He was taken into custody on Saturday, May 5 -- after he was taken to the hospital following his arrest. His family said he's had several surgeries since the incident and suffered injuries to his ribs, shoulder and neck. They said they fear being in jail isn't good for his physical or mental well-being.
"After they beat him within inches of his life, they silenced us. They took him and threw him in a county jail, in a place where people have died because they were neglected medically. They put him in here, and if you ask me, they want him to die in silence. I feel those officers acted outside of their badge because their first priority is to serve and protect," said Frana Lowe, aunt.
"We're hoping they'll release him to a medical facility, mental health facility, 'cause that's what he needs right now," said Tory Lowe, relative.
Three Milwaukee police officers were placed on administrative duty, and a fourth was placed on administrative suspension after the arrest Wednesday evening.
Cellphone video from witnesses and police body camera video has been released in this case.
***WARNING: Video may be disturbing to some viewers***
Police said officers were called to the neighborhood around 6:30 p.m. following a report that a man who was suffering from a mental health episode, had become violent toward relatives as well as other residents.
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said a caller stated the man had kicked her door in, and indicated she was hiding behind a car. She said he had not been acting normally since the weekend, and she believed someone put something in his drink. Family members identified him as Lowe.
As officers approached, things escalated within a matter of seconds. Chief Morales said the officers began a verbal dialogue with the man before attempting to take him into custody. He said the man resisted, and "actively fought with officers."
He said Thursday the man was still being treated at the hospital.
The four officers who were taken to the hospital were treated and released, Chief Morales said Thursday.
"I support the members of the Milwaukee Police Department. The officers take tremendous risks on a regular basis, however, it's important officers abide by our training and policy," said Chief Morales on Thursday.
As the fists started flying, cameras started rolling. Cellphone cameras captured the tense moments between the officers and a man in a blue shirt -- identified by family as Lowe.
He was located walking in the area of 51st and Capitol -- not far from the original address of the service call. Officers attempted to speak with him, but he responded incoherently and refused to cooperate with the officers’ commands. When officers attempted to arrest him, he assumed a fighting stance and physically attacked an officer, police said.
At first, the video shows Lowe was standing still in the grass as four officers surrounded him.
"And I just seen them tasing him and hitting him in the legs with their sticks. Him yelling something -- I couldn't even hear what it was. You could kind of hear them telling him to stop resisting," said Alejandro Allen, witness.
Allen parked his car just a few feet away to record video. He said the man didn't seem mentally stable.
"Like he wasn't in his right mind," Allen said. "You could just see his chest, just in and out."
That's when the video shows Lowe lunged at an officer and started swinging. The officers grabbed Lowe's arms and tried to drag him to the ground as he continued to struggle with them.
"Looked like 10 or more officers. Tasers out. You can hear when a cartridge ejects from a Taser. You could hear that. The whole takedown itself was just over excessive -- with the punching, the kicking. The man was clearly down," said Allen.
Allen said he wanted to share his account of the events -- hoping it helps both law enforcement and the community understand what happened.
"Everybody's going to have mixed emotions on the whole situation," said Allen.
Police said the man's aggression level continued to escalate as he physically charged and threw multiple punches at several officers. After several minutes, the man was taken into custody. He was taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries not believed to be life-threatening, and for a mental health evaluation, police said.
Police said the following about the four officers who were injured during the incident:
- The first officer is a male with eight years of service on the force. He received significant facial injuries from being punched by the subject multiple times.
- The second officer is a male with ten years of service on the force. He received swelling and contusions to his head, face and body from being punched by the subject.
- The third and fourth officers are both males, each with four years of service. They both received swelling and contusions from the incident.
Lowe's family held a rally on Friday, May 4 -- saying police used excessive force on a man who was mentally ill. They also demanded to see him in the hospital. The family said Lowe had only recently shown signs of mental illness and they were in the process of trying to check him into a medical facility. The family hired a lawyer in hopes they would be able to visit Lowe at the hospital.
Mike Crivello with the Milwaukee Police Association, the police union, has said a supervisor did not allow the officers to check out Tasers for their shift the day of the incident, which could have been used right away to get the suspect under control.
"There was holsters that he was looking to recoup and he hadn't yet got them," Crivello said. "He then made the choice that then nobody gets a Taser until I get these holsters back."
Crivello said eventually, officers from a different district brought Tasers to the scene. He said he believes the officers did nothing wrong during their arrest of Lowe.
The incident has also sparked debate at City Hall.
Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan:
"As a father of a Milwaukee Police officer, as a long-serving elected official of the City of Milwaukee for 18 years, and as a member and/or chair of the Public Safety and Health Committee for nearly all of those years, I know better than most the challenges faced daily by the good men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department.
This is why I am absolutely dumbfounded by comments I am reading from others about the arrest Wednesday of a man near N. 51st St. and W. Capitol Dr.
The officers responded to a call for help concerning an out-of-control individual who appeared to be under the influence of drugs and/or mentally disturbed. In my view from watching video of the struggle the man put up against the responding officers I am incredibly impressed with the restraint displayed by the officers.
Sources tell me that even witnesses at the scene expressed the same sentiment – that officers acted with restraint under extremely difficult circumstances.
The man was exhibiting almost super-human strength in struggling and striking out at officers. Officers used precision strikes to the man’s legs in an attempt to bring him under control (I’m told these strikes are usually 95% effective in controlling subjects) but the strikes had no impact.
The man sent three police officers to the hospital, including one with a broken nose and a blood-stained uniform.
I say ‘Thank God’ there are people willing to do this work and willingly subject themselves to this kind of situation and treatment. I am proud to stand with the men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department who put their lives and safety on the line for us on a daily basis.
I am NOT proud of the armchair quarterbacks – including members of the command staff, inspectors, elected officials and even Chief Morales – who second guess the officers’ actions as they put their lives on the line. I would love to see some of these command staff members, the Chief and elected officials step into those shoes at 51stand Capitol and see how they would react."
Statement from Alderman Khalif Rainey:
"The arrest by Milwaukee Police of a 25-year-old man on Wednesday in the 7th District near N. 51st St. and W. Capitol Dr. raises many questions for me.
The man’s violent struggle with multiple police officers during the arrest was captured on video by several witnesses, and it is very difficult to watch. Yesterday Police Chief Morales announced that three officers involved in the arrest have been placed on administrative duty and one officer involved is under administrative suspension.
Like many I am disturbed by the number of blows that were administered to the man by officers during the arrest and I will be looking to gather more information about this from MPD. I will be asking about standard operating procedures and whether they were followed in this case, and I will also be asking about the specifics of this entire situation (the response, attempts to calm the man/de-escalate).
With our recent history of MPD officers using force and questionable judgment against citizens (Dontre Hamilton, Sylville Smith, body cavity searches, etc.), incidents like this one continue to erode an already fragile relationship between the police and the community.
My thoughts are with all who were injured -- the officers and the man -- and I wish them all a full recovery."
As for Lowe's criminal background, online court records show in 2012, he pleaded guilty in a case in which he was charged with battery and criminal damage to property. As part of his sentence (probation), he was ordered to maintain absolute sobriety and take part in anger management classes.