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Family of Ty'Rese West files wrongful death lawsuit in Racine County officer-involved shooting

Posted at 4:46 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 20:40:36-05

RACINE COUNTY — The family of a Racine teenager is taking action against the Mount Pleasant police officer cleared in his death and the village that employs him.

On Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed in federal court for wrongful death and excessive force in the June incident. Ty’Rese West’s family is seeking a jury trial and thousands of dollars in damages from the officer and the village.

Back in September, Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson released a lengthy report clearing Sergeant Eric Giese of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of West, finding Giese acted in self defense.

In the lawsuit, West’s family alleges something different saying Giese’s, “use of deadly force was excessive,” and that he “caused the wrongful death of the decedent, Ty’Rese West.”

According to the DA’s report, Giese was patrolling on the evening of June 15 when he came across West riding a bicycle without a headlight and tried to stop him.

Giese said West rode away on his bike and then ran on foot.

The report said the 12-year department veteran attempted to use a taser, and was then concerned to see West reach for what may be a gun. Moments later, he saw a handgun on the ground and West fall down.

Body camera footage from another officer gives Giese’s account of what happened.

"I get him down," Giese said. "He tried tossing it. I was [expletive] stepping on his [expletive] hand right here. He kept moving towards it."

The Mount Pleasant Police Department does not require their officers to turn on their body cameras for every interaction. Giese did not trigger his camera during this encounter.

The lawsuit claims “West did not point a gun at Inv. Eric Giese,” and “did not shoot a weapon at the defendant.”

“There is no evidence that the gun ever was in Ty’Rese's hands, was ever pointed at anyone, was ever a threat to the officer,” one of the attorneys for the West family, Gregory Kulis said.

Instead, the federal suit alleges “Inv. Eric Giese shot the decedent, Ty’Rese West several times, including two in the forehead,” killing West.

The lawsuit claims Giese’s actions were “intentional, willful and wanton,” and in accordance with the police department’s policies, but that he “violated the decedent’s constitutional rights.”

It also says that the “Village of Mount Pleasant be found liable” for Giese’s alleged actions.

The pain is still fresh for West’s mom, Monique.

“I don't understand how you can do that to a kid. He didn't do no harm, no nothing,” she said.

The family hopes this lawsuit gets them the answers they’ve been looking for.

“We on the road. It’s going to come, and like I told my son, ‘Ty’Rese, baby just hold on, we’re going to get justice,’” she said.

The next step is that the Village of Mount Pleasant will have to file a written response with the court.

TODAY'S TMJ4 reached out to the village for a response. The administrator said they cannot comment on pending litigation.