Kenosha Co. Sheriff will not re-open Michael Bell shooting investigation
A Kenosha father's request to re-open an investigation into the shooting death of his son, has been denied.
Michael Bell had asked Kenosha Co. Sheriff David Beth, along with other county officials, to re-examine potential misconduct following the officer-involved shooting of his son, Michael Bell Jr.
Bell was shot and killed by a Kenosha police officer following a traffic stop for OWI in 2004. The department claims Bell was reaching for one of the officer's holsters before he was shot. At that time, law enforcement agencies were allowed to investigate their own officer-involved shootings. It took the department less than 3 days to find no wrong-doing by the officers involved.
"I truly believe the police department, even though the officer made an honest mistake, they tried to cover it up by blaming it on my son," says Bell Sr.
In a letter sent Friday, Sheriff Beth told Bell his department could not re-examine the case because they would "not be able to overcome the perception of bias."
Sheriff Beth says he sent a letter to all 72 Sheriffs in the state of Wisconsin, asking if any had reason to believe the case should be re-opened. Only one sheriff from Northern Wisconsin replied, saying his department did not have the means to examine the case, and that there did not seem to be a reason to do so.
Beth says the Department of Criminal Investigation and Department of Justice have both declined to re-examine the case, due to a lack of any new evidence.
Bell believes he has new evidence to support a cover-up.
"We discovered that the officer had mistakenly hooked his gun on a car mirror. There was no DNA or fingerprints on the gun or holster, and none of the eye witnesses saw Michael's hand on a gun or holster."
In 2010, Bell Sr. won $1.75M in a civil suit against the city of Kenosha.
Bell has used portions of that money to fund a state-wide ad campaign, ultimately landing Governor Walker's signature to change state law into how investigations are handled. Outside agencies are now required to investigate all officer-involved shootings and deaths.
In that letter, Beth said he supported Bell's efforts to improve the system used to examine officer involved shootings.
Bell is now paying for a series of billboards in Kenosha that read: "No cover-ups, re-open Michael Bell Shooting Investigation."
He says he plans on continuing to seek justice for his son.
"The findings from that 56-hour investigation are still what's on the table," he says. "I'm going to continue to push until I've done everything I can to get justice for my son, and to know the truth."