Civil Liberties

Video: 8 Cops Fire 45 Shots at 1 Mentally Ill Homeless Man


Saginaw Police Dept

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released a disturbing video of a police shooting. It shows eight officers of the Saginaw, Michigan Police Department lined up against Milton Hall, a mentally ill homeless man. There's a brief stand-off in a vacant parking lot, in which Hall pulls out a pocketknife, then the law enforcement agents fire 45 bullets at Hall, hitting him 14 times, even as he drops to the pavement, but it doesn't end there.

"One policeman, after [Hall] was on the ground, turned him over, handcuffed him, and put his foot on his back," says Jewel Hall, the mother of the 45-year-old homeless man. "And his blood is running down the street like water."

According to the ACLU, Hall only pulled out the knife because "a police dog began snarling and lunging at" him.

One has to wonder why the eight officers did not see fit to disarm Hall in a non-lethal way.

The shooting took place in July of 2012, but the organization explains why it remains relevant to this day:

In March 2014, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DoJ) declined to file federal charges against the Saginaw police officers who shot and killed Milton Hall because they claimed "this tragic event does not present sufficient evidence of willful misconduct to lead to a federal criminal prosecution." To prosecute the officers, it is necessary to prove not only that Hall's Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the use of excessive force, but also that the officers "willfully" set out to deprive him of those rights. …

The ACLU of Michigan testified that disagrees with the DOJ's decision not to prosecute, citing Supreme Court precedent indicating that an officer "recklessly disregarding" a person's rights can meet the "willfulness" standard regardless of the officer's frame of mind, calling for an expanded investigation into the practices of the Saginaw police and citing worries about an apparent pattern of racial profiling. 

On Monday the ACLU "testified… before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) about the failure of the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute officers involved in the unjustified police shooting death."

Although the DoJ declined to file charges in March, Jewel did receive $725,00 in a civil lawsuit settlement with the department, reports

The Huffington Post explains that "the [IACHR] has no real authority over the U.S. Yet Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, said he hopes the hearing will serve 'as a wake-up call for the desperate need to address police misconduct against the black citizens of this country,'" and that "The power behind these international tribunals is to draw attention to the problem and to put pressure on the United States to abide by human rights principles."

You can watch the dashcam video here: