District Attorney still mulling charges in fatal officer-involved shooting of Jermaine Claybrooks
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)-- The family of a man killed by police filed a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit late Wednesday afternoon.
Jermaine Claybrooks died during an encounter with police on March 16 of this year near 19th and Stark in Milwaukee.
Police say Claybrooks was the target of a drug investigation, involving West Allis and Milwaukee police, along with the DEA. According to the investigation, officers attempted to stop Claybrooks' car, but he took off. Claybrooks ended up hitting a tree and came to a stop. Officers approached the car and one of them says he saw a gun and believed Claybrooks was pointing it at another officer, and that’s when police opened fire.
The lawsuit, which names six officers involved, argues police violated Claybrooks’ constitutional rights when they started chasing him in the first place. Attorneys argue the only information police had about Claybrooks was from an informant, who is a convicted felon.
“These people are not reliable, a lot of times, these informants,” said Walter Stern, the attorney for the Claybrooks family. “And that’s why they usually make controlled buys or something so they can establish reliability and this was not done.”
The Claybrooks family says they have so many questions about what happened that day.
“Why didn’t they do their homework before they started shooting?” asked Joan McCants, Claybrooks’mother.
The district attorney cleared two West Allis Police officers and a DEA agent of any wrongdoing.
The other three Milwaukee police officers, who fired shots, invoked their 5th Amendment rights and declined to give statements Wauwatosa police, which led the investigation in to the shooting.
The DA's office says those officers "have not been cleared," but declined to comment further on when a decision about charges will be made.
Both he Claybrooks family and an attorney for those Milwaukee officers say no matter what the DA decides to do, it could set a precedent for future officer-involved shootings.
“The three that invoked their 5th Amendment rights to remain silent, you would think they would contribute to the investigation,” Stern said.
Representatives for the family of Jermaine Claybrooks are concerned if the officers are not charged, it will impact future investigations in to officer-involved shootings.
“We envision other cops or deputies doing the same thing and we can't stop them,” said Daniel Storm, a private investigator working for the family. “And there's no way these outside agencies can get to the bottom of these cases.”
Brendan Matthews, the attorney for the three Milwaukee officers tells CBS 58 "It is their constitutional right" not to give those statements, but adds "To be absolutely clear though, the officers have nothing to hide."
According to Matthews officers did gave statements to MPD internal affairs, which will be public once the internal investigation is closed.
“Even before those statements are released, the DA has the authority to review them, but he chose not to (for whatever reason),” Matthews said. The DA could not use the officer's statement against the officer. However the statement from one officer could be used against another office.
Matthews says the decision not to clear the officers yet has "essentially put officers on notice that if they are involved in an officer-involved-shooting that they will not receive a clearance letter from him unless they make a statement and give up their constitutional rights in so doing."
A spokesman for Milwaukee Police says the three officers are on administrative duty and the internal investigation is ongoing.