Chancellor’s Update: District Attorney Determination

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Dear UWM Faculty, Staff and Students,
The Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office issued a letter this week in which they found justifiable the actions of a UWM Police Department officer in the March 19, 2019 shooting incident in our Peck School of the Arts Fine Arts Complex. This message serves as an update at the conclusion of the external investigation as previously promised.

The shooting incident occurred when two UWM Police Department officers responded to a report of a man sleeping in the closed complex. The police officers found the man awake and in possession of a sheathed machete, a sheathed hatchet, a pack of zip ties, a paintball-style mask and a box of ammunition. He refused to disclose whether he was carrying a firearm or to remove his hands from his pockets. When he attempted to flee, an officer grabbed him. While that officer was trying to physically restrain him, the man reached into his pocket, grabbed a loaded firearm and aimed it at the officers. The firearm was visible to the officer who was not trying to restrain the man, and that officer then shot the man. The loaded firearm was recovered from the scene. The man continued to fight the officers after being shot. The officer who attempted to physically subdue the man suffered a concussion during the struggle.

Following standard guidelines in an officer-involved shooting, a separate investigation of the incident was conducted through the Milwaukee Area Investigative Team (MAIT), led by the Oak Creek Police Department. The MAIT conducted witness interviews and reviewed body camera footage and recovered evidence. The MAIT submitted their file to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, who reviewed it and subsequently issued this week’s letter.

With the MAIT’s and District Attorney’s Office’s reviews complete, we want to publicly recognize the two involved officers for their courage, including actions to save the life of the individual after he was subdued, and his firearm secured. Their efforts prevented further harm, and for that, we are grateful.

The shooting incident was an anomaly at UWM, and our first instinct must always be to help those in need. In this case, the officers offered to connect the individual with community support programs before the encounter became confrontational. We wish he had accepted that help and the situation turned out differently. But, the well-being and safety of our students, faculty and staff are of top concern and our officers’ first obligation was to protect others in the building.

Best regards,

Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee