The family of a man who died after a foot chase with the police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has filed a lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department. DeShaunte Adams’ family is suing the police department to obtain all of the police camera footage, because they say the limited video they were shown contradicts the MPD’s version of events.
The 43-year-old father of four died after a police chase ended with Adams allegedly taking his own life. However, the family is disputing the narrative and wants to see the entire bodycam video. They want to know how Adams supposedly shot a police officer after he died.
Adams died after a foot pursuit by the MPD on Aug. 26 on the 3500 block of North 11th Street. According to the police, Adams was suspected of violating a domestic violence restraining order. They claim that Adams shot himself after being cornered by the police in a backyard. They also claim that after he died his gun went off and shot a police officer nearby in the leg.
“Ultimately the suspect went into a backyard of 3500 block of North 11th Street, at which time he discharged a firearm at his head, fatally wounding himself,” said Chief Jeffrey Norman.
Adams’ mother Sharon Webb said the MPD’s account of her son’s death isn’t true and she wants answers. The family filed an open records request for all of the bodycam footage one day after seeing the limited version the MPD allowed them to view.
Adams’ death certificate shows the cause of death as “pending.” An earlier report from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office office listed the cause of death as suicide.
“When they went to turn him over, the gun went off and shot the police? Lies,” Webb told WISN. “They think somebody gonna sit back and forget about it, and I ain’t forgetting about nothing. They took my son from me.”
His sister Annesha Adams told the outlet that she saw some of the bodycam footage and is adamant that her brother did not shoot himself. She demonstrated what she saw in the video as she recreated the incident.
“My brother, in the video, he gets down like this, and his right hand is still down like this,” she said as she got down on her knees and pointed down with her right hand as her left arm was raised up.
Adams continued “And his left hand is still up. He must have heard some movement from the right, which was some more officers were closing in on him. He looked to the right, he see them. As soon as he stood back up like this,” she said as she stood up with her right hand still pointed down, “He go, boom,” she said as she motioned her head to the left to demonstrate the gunshot. “He hit the ground. … He didn’t shoot himself.”
Webb interjected to say, “They shot him,” as her daughter stood up while recreating the video. She added that it appeared as if one of the police officers shot the wounded police officer, and that one of the officers yelled at the other to put their gun on safety on the video.
“Once they shot my son, two officers over are here trying to move lawnmowers,” said Webb as she pointed to the left. “Pow! You hear the gun go off. They done shot each other. ‘Put the gun on safety!’ That’s what the other officer told the other officer.”
The family wants to know exactly how Adams’ alleged gun went off when the video they saw reveals the police officer getting shot before they tended to Adams’ body, not after as the police claimed.
Norman claimed that Adams fired at the police twice before they returned fire during the pursuit, but nobody was hit. Norman also alleged that after Adams was shot a shot from his gun struck a police officer.
Officers were attempting to stabilize the “suspect with a tactical ballistic shield when the suspect’s firearm inadvertently discharged, subsequently striking an officer nearby,” Norman said.
Close to 30 of Adams’ family members and supporters met in front of the MPD’s District Five location on Jan. 10 to call on law enforcement to release body camera footage in similar situations in a more timely fashion. The family also said that they are considering additional legal action.
Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression activist Omar Flores said the lack of transparency from the MPD causes distrust in the community.
“I am very, very tired of standing out here seeing family after family saying the same exact thing, that ‘We don’t have any closure with the death of our loved one,’” said Flores. “Can you imagine going for months, sometimes even years, without understanding fully what happened to your loved ones?”
“I want justice for my son, his kids and my family,” said Webb. “They lied to me.”