KENOSHA (WITI) -- After working to pass a bill aimed at assuring independent investigations into police-involved deaths, Michael Bell Sr. is now getting national attention. His efforts in Wisconsin are now under a larger spotlight following the controversial shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Bell's oldest son, Michael Jr., was shot and killed by a Kenosha police officer in 2004. While the police department cleared its officers of any wrongdoing, Bell eventually settled with the city for $1.75 million and used much of that money on a billboard campaign that called for new legislation that mandates independent investigations into officer-involved deaths.
Bell's efforts paid off in April when Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that requires an outside agency to lead the investigation into police-involved deaths. Because of Bell's efforts, he's followed the events in Ferguson closely. Bell was asked this week to write an article about his experience for POLITICO. That article has been shared more than 100,000 times on social media. He says he's also been scheduled to appear later this week on CNN and MSNBC. Bell says he's saddened to see mass protests have occasionally turned violent in Ferguson but says he understands why.
"Do I agree with (the violence)? No," Bell said. "But I don`t think they have any other mechanism to express themselves and nobody else is listening."
Bell says the new Wisconsin legislation is especially important given the unrest in Ferguson and the equipment police are using there for crowd control.
"As the police department and law enforcement become more militarized, we have to make sure they`re more transparent and there are greater restraints being placed," Bell said.
Bell says he'd like to eventually see additions to the Wisconsin legislation. Mainly, he wants immediate blood draws from officers when they use deadly force. He's also concerned that district attorneys still have the final say in whether an officer is charged; Bell says it could be a conflict of interest since those district attorneys work closely with the police departments in their respective counties.
"It`s not enough," Bell said, "We need more, but it`s a start in the right direction."