RACINE COUNTY -- More than three months after Ty'Rese West, 18, was shot and killed by Mount Pleasant Police Sgt. Eric Giese, Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson on Wednesday, Sept. 18 announced no charges would be filed against Giese. West's family said their fight isn't over.
DA Hanson determined that "Sergeant Giese's actions in this case fall under the privilege of self-defense," and as such, "no charges will be filed against Sergeant Giese in this case," Racine police, who led this investigation, said in a statement.
"I want a thorough investigation done, and also to see Eric Giese locked up," said Dwight Person, West's father.
Hanson laid out the events and evidence from June 15 in a 23-page report, explaining why she came to the decision she did.
FOX6 News spoke with West's mother Wednesday as she awaited the decision. She said her heart was filled with sadness, and her mind was filled with doubt.
"Scared. Numb," said West. "I just -- I just want to hear what she is going to tell me."
On June 15, just after 1:30 a.m., near 24th Street and Racine Street, West was shot and killed by Mount Pleasant Police Sergeant Eric Giese.
Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Justice said Giese was attempting to stop West, who was on a bicycle. Giese pursued West on foot, and observed he was armed with a gun.
"We have a bicyclist on the curb of Highway 32, coming up to Highway 24, 24th Street," Giese said in dispatch audio released by DA Hanson Wednesday, later telling West to, "Drop the (expletive) gun or I'll shoot you."
The DOJ said various non-lethal methods were used unsuccessfully by Sgt. Giese in “an attempt to address the threat,” including verbal commands and the deployment of electronic control devices. Lethal force was subsequently deployed. Life-saving measures were rendered, but were unsuccessful. A handgun was recovered at the scene, the DOJ said.
Giese called for help moments after the shooting.
"25th and Racine, right at the corner," said Sgt. Giese in dispatch audio released by DA Hanson. "Suspect's down, not breathing."
Hanson released by camera footage from after the shooting. Sgt. Giese told fellow officers what happened.
"I was (expletive) stepping on his (expletive) hand right here, and he (expletive), he kept moving towards it, and he moves past it as he's moving (expletive) back," Giese said. "I told him, I said, 'I'm going to (expletive) shoot you. I'm going to (expletive) shoot you,' and (expletive) listen. He wouldn't (expletive) stay still."
Giese was wearing a body camera on his chest when he fatally shot West -- but he failed to activate it, Hanson said in the report. It was not working during any portion of the incident -- and Mount Pleasant PD policy does not require it to be activated for every encounter.
Hanson said she ultimately decided the deadly use of force was justified, saying the case fell "under self-defense," noting West had a gun and "continued to reach for the weapon," despite commands not to. Photos of the gun were released, along with other evidence in Hanson's report. She called Giese's decision to shoot "legal and ethical."
"I know it's not going to be what I want to hear," said Monique West ahead of the announcement. "I feel that in my heart already. There is no way possible you can justify two gunshot wounds to the head."
West said her son did not have a gun.
"They will try to justify anything to cover their butts," said West.
Concerns about how the district attorney's decision would impact the community were already being felt by groups like the Racine Interfaith Coalition. Leaders called on the community to observe a moment of silence at noon Wednesday to pray for West's family.
"You took my son from me," said West. "My family. His siblings."
Racine police led the investigation into this officer-involved shooting. FOX6 News was told a written statement would be posted on their website after the announcement was made.
The attorney for the West family issued this statement Wednesday:
"The family is disappointed, but not surprised by District Attorney Hanson's decision. The family will continue to fight for justice and answers to the tragic and unjustified death of Ty'Rese.”
Racine Mayor Cory Mason issued this statement ahead of the announcement:
“Our community is holding its breath as we wait today for the Racine County District Attorney to announce whether or not a Mount Pleasant police officer will face criminal charges for the death of Ty’Rese West. Our community is hurting, and we continue to grieve the loss of this young man. I know that for Ty’Rese West’s family, no part of this process so far has provided closure or satisfaction. I want them to know that I see and hear their grief and the valid questions they are asking. I know that if this were my child, I too would be asking tough questions, and expecting satisfactory answers, transparency, and accountability. And I want to acknowledge the painful reality that my white children are viewed and treated differently than their African American and Latino counterparts. That must change. Whatever the Racine County District Attorney decides today, I will continue to support reforms that reduce those inequalities, and increase our entire community’s confidence in our criminal justice system. No matter the outcome, I hope we will react peacefully, in a way that will honor the West family and the memory of their son.”
Mount Pleasant Police Chief Matthew Soens issued this statement:
"Officer involved shootings are extremely tragic, and the aftermath is difficult to navigate for the community and law enforcement alike. While the Racine County District Attorney’s decision brings some closure to this tragedy, we recognize that many people are grieving the loss of Tyrese West. We offer our condolences to the West family and for all those who are mourning his loss. As required by state law, the investigation of the incident was turned over to an independent agency for review and consideration of possible criminal charges. The Racine Police Department and the State of Wisconsin’s Division of Criminal Investigations carefully examined the facts surrounding the case. Many of the facts and details pertaining to this incident could not be previously released due to the pending criminal investigation and current civil litigation. We are hopeful that the release of the district attorney’s decision, along with the facts gathered through the investigatory process, will clarify the events of June 15, 2019. 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. Additionally, the Mount Pleasant Police Department will seek funding for the procurement of additional body-worn cameras through the 2020 budget process. The additional cameras would allow for all 56 sworn department members to have a camera issued and assigned to them, similar to other police equipment that is used on a daily basis. The Mount Pleasant Police Department is also reviewing its body-worn camera policy to address any changes that might be needed. The Mount Pleasant Police Department continues to be dedicated to the community policing philosophy where the community and the police department collaborate to establish and maintain relationships built on trust and mutual respect. The community is stronger when law enforcement and community members forge partnerships and work to solve community issues collectively."