Brief

Questions about Racine, Kenosha shooting investigation

By: - January 18, 2023 6:00 am
Close up photo of police lights on top of a cop car at night

A close-up photo of police lights by night. Getty Images

Details continue to emerge regarding a vehicle chase and officer-involved shooting Monday in Kenosha. The incident involved sheriff’s deputies from Kenosha and Racine counties, as well as Wisconsin State Patrol troopers, and ended near the Great Lakes Dragaway.

At around 3:30 p.m. a Racine County deputy initiated a car chase which crossed into Kenosha County. Wisconsin State Patrol joined as the chase continued, ending in the vehicle crashing in the Paris Township in Kenosha County. According to a Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, the driver fled the vehicle and was later located in a nearby field.

Deputies from Kenosha and Racine Counties, joined by state troopers, approached the individual. According to the DOJ, officers ordered the individual to drop a firearm before firing. Fox6 reported that officers called out a firearm over dispatch as the individual fled. The individual was transported to the hospital and later died. No law enforcement personnel were injured during the incident.

The troopers and deputies who were involved in the incident have all been placed on administrative leave, following standard  procedure. The shooting investigation is being led by the DOJ. State law mandates that police shooting investigations be led by an agency uninvolved in the incident. Agencies and personnel who were involved are disqualified from conducting the investigation.

That disqualification extends to the personal relationships of investigators, such as marriages between two law enforcement personnel employed at different agencies. Named after Michael Bell, a man who was killed by Kenosha police nearly two decades ago, the law setting out the rules for independent investigations of police shootings was passed in 2014.

The current investigation is being assisted by the Wisconsin State Patrol, Kenosha Police Department and the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). State patrol troopers, however, were also directly involved in the shooting. Wisconsin Examiner reached out to the Wisconsin DOJ to determine whether this runs afoul of the Michael Bell law, but have not heard back. Kenosha PD was also involved in a shooting incident after responding to a report of a gunman downtown  in December. This incident is also being investigated by the Wisconsin DOJ. In the Monday shooting, “DCI is continuing to review evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to the Racine County District Attorney when the investigation concludes,” DOJ states.

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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.

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