world : Death of Dvontaye Mitchell Outside of Milwaukee Hyatt Sparks Outrage. What We Know

Tuesday 9 July 2024 04:49 AM

Nafeza 2 world - The death of a Black man who was held down by four security guards outside a hotel in Milwaukee last week has sparked outrage in the city— with some calling the altercation “reminiscent of the killing of George Floyd.”

Dvontaye Mitchell, 43, went to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Milwaukee on June 30. According to local authorities, after a tense altercation with security guards allegedly got physical, Mitchell was forcibly escorted out and restrained until police arrived. But upon their arrival, Mitchell was found unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene.

Shocking witness cellphone footage of Mitchell pinned down by security guards has circulated on social media and has been highlighted by prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has been hired by Mitchell’s family. 

Here’s what to know about the incident.

What police are saying

In an email statement to TIME, the Milwaukee Police Department said that they were investigating a death that occurred at a business on the 300 block of W. Kilbourne Avenue, refusing to confirm the identity of the deceased individual and the business.  

The police shared in the statement that the individual allegedly went into the business, “caused a disturbance” and “fought with security guards as they were escorting the individual out.”

Security detained the individual until police arrived at the scene, according to the statement. When the officers arrived, they found that the individual was unresponsive, and after performing lifesaving measures, he was pronounced dead, police said.

Police declined to clarify what the nature of the disturbance leading up to the incident was. They said that the cause of death is still under investigation, but added that this is not currently a criminal investigation. The incident is being reviewed by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, police said. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating the cause of death.

What the video shows

A video taken by a witness shows Mitchell being pinned down to the ground by four security guards. In the video, at least one of the guards can be seen kneeling on Mitchell’s back, while another can be seen holding his legs. One guard can be seen forcibly restraining Mitchell.

Mitchell can be heard screaming and saying “please” and “help” several times in the video, and a guard can be heard yelling at him to “stay down.”

At one point in the video, one of the guards says in the direction of the person filming, “This is what happens when you go into the ladies room!”

Read More: Everything We Know About the Police Killing of Double-Amputee Anthony Lowe

Mitchell’s family call for charges against security guards

Crump’s law firm said in a press release on Wednesday that Mitchell’s mother believes that her son was suffering from a mental health episode. Crump said in the press release that the circumstances surrounding Mitchell’s death “are disturbing and as described by a witness, reminiscent of the killing of George Floyd.”

“It is deeply troubling that we have lost another Black man in an encounter with security personnel, raising serious concerns about the use of force, lack of accountability, and absence of mental health considerations,” Crump said in the statement.

Crump held a press conference outside the Milwaukee hotel Monday, saying that the “excessive force” the security guards used led to “unarmed” Mitchell’s death and calling for charges to be filed against the security guards involved in the incident. Dozens of people stood outside the hotel with Crump, some holding signs that said “Justice for Dvontaye.”

“Everybody in America after George Floyd should have trained their employees, especially their security personnel, to not put knees on people’s backs and people’s necks,” Crump said during the press conference. “And when people are having problems breathing, don’t keep them in a prone position.”

Security guards suspended while investigation underway

A Hyatt spokesperson said in an emailed statement that Aimbridge Hospitality operates the Milwaukee hotel, and is responsible for the management of hotel employees. The spokesperson said Hyatt understands that Aimbridge Hospitality “is still completing its investigation, and to date, has suspended its employees involved in the incident.”

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to Dvontaye Mitchell’s family, all those who knew and loved him, and the Milwaukee community in light of this tragedy,” the spokesperson said. “As the investigation continues, Hyatt is fully committed to supporting efforts to help ensure accountability for the circumstances that led to the death of Dvontaye Mitchell.”

A spokesperson for Aimbridge Hospitality said in an emailed statement that they also offered their condolences to Mitchell’s family and loved ones.

“We continue to do everything we can to support law enforcement’s ongoing investigation into this incident and have no further comment at this time,” the spokesperson said. “We remain committed to maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all hotel guests and associates.”

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