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Family sues Milwaukee Police Department over bodycam video after man dies during foot chase

The family of DeShaunte Adams is demanding the Milwaukee Police Department release body camera footage of the moments leading up to their son's death.
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Posted at 5:21 PM, Jan 10, 2023

MILWAUKEE — The family of DeShaunte Adams is demanding the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) release body camera footage of the moments leading up to their son's death.

Adams, 43, died after police said he shot himself in a backyard after a chase on the city's north side last August. MPD Chief Jeffrey Norman said Adams fired at officers and they fired back, but nobody was hit. Police say shortly after Adams took his life, his gun went off, injuring a nearby officer.

"It has now been almost five months and this family still has not got any clear understanding as to what took place," B'Ivory LaMarr, attorney for the Adams family, said on Tuesday.

The body camera footage from officers on the scene has not been publicly released, which LaMarr and the Adams family are hoping can come to light.

Adams' family claims the video contradicts what MPD says happened leading up to his death.

The family was able to watch the video late last year. Adams' sister, Annesha Adams, described what she saw in the body camera footage.

"They kept saying 'put your gun down.' He gets down on his knees like this and he's still positioned like this. The next thing you know, he hears movement, which is officers to the right of him. He looks to the right. And as he looks to the right, he stands back up like this. The moment he stands up, boom! He gets shot. He hits the ground," Annesha described at a press conference.

Her family filed an open records request hoping to make the video they saw public.

But, MPD denied that request in December. In their response to the family, provided to TMJ4 by the family lawyers, the department cites a state statute that reads: "'Information relating to the current investigation of a possible criminal offense or possible misconduct connected with employment by an employee prior to the disposition of the investigation' shall not be disclosed."

LaMarr took issue with that part of the response.

"We haven't seen any press conferences. The family hasn't gotten any phone calls. There's been no explanation whatsoever to talk about what this potential criminal misconduct is," LaMarr said.

In emails with MPD, TMJ4 asked why there hasn't been a community briefing. The department's response was: "There is no community briefing for this incident as it was a self-inflicted shooting."

When TMJ4 followed up by asking why the video wasn't being released and if any officers were being investigated in relation to the incident, MPD said: "There is an internal investigation still pending. The Milwaukee Police Department does not have a formal statement as there is ongoing litigation."

MPD said the video will be released once the internal investigation is done.

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