RACINE — District Attorney Patricia J. Hanson of Racine County has decided not to bring charges against the Mount Pleasant police sergeant accused in the deadly shooting of 18-year-old Ty'Rese West.
According to police, Sgt. Eric Giese was patrolling on the evening of June 15 when he attempted to stop West for not having the proper lights on his bicycle. A struggle began after officers believed West had a gun, which eventually led to West being fatally shot.
"I told him, I'm going to [expletive] shoot you," Giese said on body camera video. "He didn't [expletive] listen."
The 12-year department veteran attempted to use a taser before firing his weapon, according to police. However, the only video from that night is from another officer who came on the scene after the shooting.
"It's 2019," Andrew M. Stroth, the attorney for the West family said. "Why didn't this officer turn on his body camera? Why did this officer not have a dash camera?"
In it, Giese gives his immediate reactions about 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."
Giese is referring to the gun they recovered at the scene. In the District Attorney's report, Giese says it appeared West tossed the gun and it hit a chain-link fence. However, while Giese was standing over West, the teenager was able to wiggle free with the gun just a few inches away.
"[West's] actions put Sergeant Giese at a disadvantage that he could not overcome by other means," District Attorney Hanson said. "Ultimately, the use of lethal force was the only alternative he had left to exercise."
But family members still believe that the sergeant should face trial.
"We haven't seen anything. We know nothing at all," said the victim's grandmother Barbara West.
"All we want is justice for Ty'Rese," said the victim's mother.
Stroth also questions the circumstances leading up to the shooting. Giese was driving a different car while his was being repaired. That car had a dash cam with a full memory card. Also, the radio system he was using was different than he's used to. In turn, he had to pull a radio from his belt to make calls to dispatch, occupying his left hand during the chase.
Mt. Pleasant Police do not require their officers to turn on their body cameras for every interaction. This is left up to the officer's discretion. So in addition to the other two technical issues, Giese also was not able or did not turn his body camera on.
"There's no other witnesses to our knowledge," Stroth said. "How are we to believe the officer's statement?"
The West family has said they do not believe Ty'Rese would have had a gun. However, there were multiple incidents over the last few years where Ty'Rese was involved with guns. In December of 2015, Racine Police received a call that he had a firearm. In July of 2017, he was a passenger in a car involved in a drive-by between rival gangs in Racine.
And in June, just 12 days before he was killed, his fingerprints were found at a Racine home burglary where a handgun was stolen. He also had a felony so he never should have had a gun in his possession.
The gun recovered the night of his death was registered to a Milwaukee woman. She told police it was taken from her three years ago and she has no connection to Racine County. West's death sparked protests across Racine County that have continued for months.
The family was given the opportunity to meet with the District Attorney's Office prior to the announcement at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the case.
The Mount Pleasant Police Department released this statement:
"We are hopeful that the release of the district attorney's decision, along with facts gathered through the investigatory process, will clarify the events of June 15, 2019. With the district attorney's decision now final, and our own internal investigation near completion, Sergeant Giese is expected to return to unrestricted full-duty status to resume his assigned responsibilities."
Read the full report from the Racine district attorney here:
Mppd Ois Decision 9-18-19 (1) by TODAY'S TMJ4 on Scribd