In 2012, police officers shot Milton Hall, a mentally ill African-American man, 46 times, killing him almost instantly. Both the county prosecutor and the Department of Justice refused to press charges. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union has released video footage of the shooting, along with a statement from the man’s mother, Jewel Hall.
According to CNN, the police were called after Hall refused to pay for coffee at a mini-mart in Saginaw, Michigan. When the eight officers arrived at the scene, Hall was brandishing a pen knife, and refused to drop it despite repeated orders to do so. The video shows six of the eight officers then firing repeatedly at Hall, who was hit 14 times before he hit the ground.
“For him to be shot at 46 times and hit 14 times by all white policemen, it really raised questions in my mind,” said his mother. “How they circled him and assassinated him. One policeman, after he was on the ground, turned him over, handcuffed him, and put his foot on his back…his blood running down the street like water. And he wasn’t a threat, I mean, he had a little pen knife. He had no idea that those policemen would do that to him.”
Mrs. Hall said that her son, who was 49 when he died, was a community worker who “exposed violations and campaigned for redress for people that he thought were victims” and “took action to ensure and promote equal rights.”
His illness didn’t manifest until his mid-twenties, she explained, but “as long as he was on his medication and all, he did fine. It was when he wasn’t on his medication that he was impatient. He’d sometimes become intolerant. But when he was on his medication, he maintained.”
None of the officers were charged for the murder, although the on-site supervisor was demoted to patrolman, and two other officers were “disciplined.”
“When you have the U.S. government go in and look at Milton’s case for four or five months and then come out and say, ‘Well, it wasn’t intentional.’ To shoot at somebody 46 times and it wasn’t intentional?” she said. “It has given me a commitment for the little time that I have left to work with parents whose kids have been similarly killed.”
The ACLU presented the video to a hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
“What needs to change is how police deal with situations like the one that ended in my son’s death,” said Hall. “The elected leaders and community leaders must address conditions that allow police to use excessive and deadly force with impunity.”