Prosecutors in Racine County, Wisconsin have declined to bring charges against a Mount Pleasant policeman accused of gunning down an African-American teen.
Sgt. Eric Giese fatally shot Ty’Rese West in June after attempting to stop the 18-year-old, who was riding his bicycle without the proper lighting. As reported by WISN 12, it’s against state law to ride a bike at night without a front headlight.
A struggle ensued after West, who police said was armed with a handgun, refused to comply with Giese’s commands and took off running. In a report of the incident, the officer said he attempted to use his Taser before firing his weapon out of fear that West might shoot him first.
“We’re 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,” Mount Pleasant PD said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
The decision was decried by West’s family, who said they hoped the officer would be charged and go to trial.
“All we want is justice for Ty’Rese,” the teen’s mother, Monique West, told local station WTMJ.
The indent unfolded in the wee hours of June 15 as West led the officer on a brief foot chase in Racine. According to a report from the district attorney’s office, Giese spotted the teenager make a “two-handed underhand throwing motion” before stumbling and falling onto the pavement. That is when the officer got a clear view of the gun, which had landed just inches from West.
“Sergeant Giese [initially] didn’t see what Mr. West had in his hands,” the report states, “but heard a distinct metallic sound on the 8″ high chain link fence they were running next to.”
Giese soon caught up with the suspect, using his left foot to pin West’s hand to stop him from grabbing for the gun. He was straddling the young man at the time and struggling to maintain his balance, leaving him unable to kick the weapon away.
Despite his repeated warnings for West not to reach for the gun, the report states the teen repeatedly tried pulling his hand out from under Giese’s boot and then pushing up into a position that would knock the cop off balance.
At some point, West was able to get to his knees and free his hand from under the sergeant’s foot. That’s when Giese pivoted to create space between himself and the suspect before stepping back and firing three shots.
“Sgt. Giese described the situation as the most intense and stressful situation of his life,” according to the DA’s report.
According to an autopsy report, West suffered two fatal gunshots to the head and a third to his left shoulder and chest.
In their investigation, District Attorney Patricia J. Hanson‘s office determined that Giese had acted in self-defense when he shot West. Investigators said they also recovered a gun at the scene.
The teen’s family said they’re now considering asking for a federal review of the case.
“I feel like it was murder because two shots in the head, that’s self-explanatory,” said Dwight Person, West’s father. “That was murder. So I would like to see a thorough investigation done and I would like to see Eric Giese charged.”
According to the report, West was on probation at the time of the shooting and was barred from having a gun.
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