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Video shows: Black man dies after being detained by hotel guards in Milwaukee

Video shows: Black man dies after being detained by hotel guards in Milwaukee

Milwaukee police are investigating the death of a black man in an incident that has drawn comparisons to the 2020 killing of George Floyd after footage emerged appearing to show hotel guards pinning the man to the ground as he cried for help.

Witness video shows 43-year-old Dvontaye Mitchell lying on the ground outside the Hyatt Regency hotel, screaming for help as security guards hold him down with their hands and knees. Mitchell can be heard grunting and screaming apologies.

Mitchell’s mother said her son has mental health issues, and Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing Mitchell’s family, said a witness to the June 30 incident reported seeing one of the security guards “hit him in the head with an object.” Police did not address those claims.

Since then, Crump said more witnesses have come forward. He told the Washington Post that security guards must be held accountable. Two witnesses will describe what they saw at the hotel during a press conference on Wednesday, he said.

Milwaukee police did not immediately respond when asked if they were still collecting witness statements.

“Dvontaye was begging for his life. It’s just heartbreaking,” Crump said, calling on the hotel to Video footage and the identification of the security forces involved. “What is even more outrageous is that they treat these private citizens with a cloak of immunity.”

A Hyatt spokesman sent condolences to Mitchell’s family and the city of Milwaukee. Aimbridge Hospitality, a Texas-based company, operates the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee and manages its employees, the Hyatt spokesman said. Aimbridge’s investigation into Mitchell’s death is ongoing and the employees involved have been suspended, the Hyatt spokesman said.

A spokesperson for Aimbridge Hospitality said the company is supporting the ongoing police investigation and remains committed to providing a welcoming and safe environment for all hotel guests and employees.

“We extend our sincere condolences to Mr Mitchell’s family and loved ones,” the spokesman added.

Crump compared Mitchell’s death to that of Floyd and said authorities must intervene to prevent the excessive use of force against unarmed black people.

“Then they will not be inclined to treat unarmed black men so inhumanely,” said Crump, who represented Floyd’s family in a lawsuit against Minneapolis.

Floyd, who was black, died there in 2020 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes – an incident that sparked a wave of global protests against racial inequality. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted and sent to a federal prison.

No one has been charged in connection with Mitchell’s death. The Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office told the Post on Tuesday that “the case has been forwarded to our office and further investigation is currently pending.”

“There is currently no timetable for a decision on whether to file charges,” an office spokesman added.

Police said they were called to the Hyatt around 3:20 p.m. on June 30 regarding a person causing a disturbance. They received a report that the person began struggling while being escorted out of the building. When they arrived, officers found the person unresponsive and attempted to perform “life-saving measures” to no avail.

It is not clear what happened immediately before or after the witnesses recorded videos. In one video aired by local media, a security guard appears to address the person recording the video, yelling, “This is what happens when you go into the ladies’ room.” Aimbridge Hospitality did not immediately respond when asked if Mitchell entered a ladies’ room.

If Mitchell had entered the ladies’ room, it would not be a death sentence, Crump said.

Mitchell, who lived in Milwaukee, had two children: a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old, said his mother, Brenda Giles. Mitchell has struggled with mental health issues in recent years and may have suffered a mental health episode while staying at the hotel, she said.

“He lost his father in June 2016. His father’s death did something to him,” Giles said, adding that she did not know why her son was in the hotel.

Giles said she was seeking justice for her son, adding that the hotel should release its videos.

“He didn’t harm anyone. He didn’t hurt anyone,” Giles said of Mitchell.

The Milwaukee County Coroner’s Office on July 1 declared the preliminary cause of death to be homicide, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The coroner’s office defines homicide as “death at the hands of another person,” regardless of intent. The definition is based solely on “the medical evidence available at the time of the investigation.” Its determination does not necessarily mean that someone else is legally responsible for the death. The coroner’s office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.