Corey Stingley's father, others speak on decision for no charges

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A group led by Corey Stingley's father, Craig Stingley on Wednesday evening, January 15th spoke out on a decision made by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm to file no charges in connection with the death of Corey Stingley.

Stingley died following an incident inside VJ's Food Mart in West Allis that occurred on December 14th, 2012.

Surveillance video taken inside VJ's was released on Tuesday, January 14th. That video shows three VJ's customers restrain Stingley after they say they saw him shoplifting.

A police report points to the time when Stingley is seen in the video putting six small bottles of vodka in his backpack. The surveillance video shows Stingley being confronted by the clerk as he tried to pay for an energy drink. Stingley is seen reaching for his debit card and then running. In the upper part of the screen — you see a struggle as three men stop Stingley.

While most of the struggle is out of camera range, police say Stingley punched one customer in the face. That customer said he briefly put Stingley in a choke hold. Stingley ends up going down.

The struggle continues on the lower left of the screen. One customer is seen putting his knee on Stingley’s back to restrain him. Police arrived minutes later, Stingley was not breathing and had no pulse. While police and paramedics were able to revive him, the 16-year-old later died.

On Friday, January 10th, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office ended a lengthy investigation. The result — no charges for the three customers involved.

District Attorney John Chisholm says he would not be able to legally prove who is responsible for Stingley’s death. He says there was absolutely no intent to kill the teen.

“Their goal was to intervene and hold him until police arrived. They were restraining him after what was initially a violent encounter. I can’t make charges based on popular sentiment. It’s got to be based on the facts. It’s got to be based on the law and what we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If I apply any other standard, I’m not doing my job. I’m standing by that decision, and accept any criticism that comes along with that,” said Chisholm.

On Monday, Corey Stingley’s father said this was a crime against humanity -- and on Wednesday, Stingley's father and other community activists hosted a press conference at the Center Street Library on W. Fond du Lac Ave. to speak out on Chisholm's decision.

"My son was brutally murdered. This wasn't restraint. This was murder," Craig Stingley said Wednesday.

Stingley's father says Stingley was actually trying to return merchandise at the store prior to the altercation.

"These men plotted to do something, and as a result, a young person's life is gone," Craig Stingley said.

During the event on Wednesday, Craig Stingley showed pictures of his son taken while in the hospital -- and said he believes his son was violently choked to death.

On Friday, a demonstration is planned outside of the District Attorney's Office on W. State Street.

"I stand here today and say we have not been represented," Stingley said Wednesday.

One group protesting says it is appalled that the District Attorney decided not to charge the three men, saying: "These men are not Good Samaritans. These men were a self-appointed out of control posse that killed a black boy."

Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen is also questioning the decision not to charge -- saying: "This is a pressing issue for race relations in Milwaukee County. West Allis has a growing population of color, and they are concerned that this sort of action is condoned by local authorities."

The Milwaukee branch of the NAACP released this statement Wednesday:

"The NAACP Milwaukee Branch is greatly troubled by the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Corey Stingley. While no one condones the kind of wrongdoing that he was alleged to have been engaged in, the actions of the three men who restrained Mr. Stingley resulting in his death, should be thoroughly examined. We grieve for and with his family and fully support their efforts seeking a civil or federal review of the circumstances that resulted in the most fundamental violation of civil rights – the loss of life.

When a person loses his life at the hands of others, it would seem that a “chargeable” offence has occurred. If the District Attorney has determined that the traditional charge of manslaughter is not warranted under the circumstances, we believe that some other charge, under the facts as we understand them might nonetheless be appropriate. The family (and community) deserves to be satisfied that the investigation gave full consideration not only to the question of intent, but also to issues of criminal negligence and reckless disregard for life.

The NAACP has had a long history of opposing vigilantism – taking the law into one’s own hands, for obvious reasons. Former National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous recently cautioned (in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin death) how Stand Your Ground and other similar laws license vigilantism, adding that this should be a matter of grave concern to every enlightened citizen. It is one thing to act as a “Good Samaritan.” It is another to take a life. The stand that should be taken should be one of alerting the community that vigilantism can be a slippery slope and that vigilante justice must never be applauded or condoned."

Craig Stingley has said he is asking for an investigation by the United States Department of Justice.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.