Family sues Milwaukee police after a request to see bodycam footage of man's death denied

NOW: Family sues Milwaukee police after a request to see bodycam footage of man’s death denied


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Police Department is at the forefront of two high profile cases in the city -- two families demanding justice and transparency.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that bodycam footage related to a former Milwaukee police officer's deadly off-duty encounter with a friend back in 2020, should be made public. On Tuesday, Jan. 10, another family filed a similar lawsuit, hoping for the same outcome.

On Aug. 26, 2022, Deshaunte Adams was involved in a police chase on foot, his family told CBS 58 News he was wanted on his second warrant for domestic violence. The chase ended in a backyard near 11th Street and Atkinson Avenue.

According to the Milwaukee Police Department, Adams discharged his firearm multiple times at officers, but officers did not return fire during the encounter. Police said Adams ultimately fired a self-inflicted gunshot to his head, resulting in his death.

Moments later, an officer was also shot. Police said officers approached Adams using a tactical ballistic shield for protection and Adams' firearm discharged and struck an officer. 

"A shot rings off, when that shot rings off, you knew an officer shot his partner because you hear another officer say, 'Put your rifle on safety,'" explained the victims' sister, Annesha Adams.

The complaint stated that a few members of the Adams family reviewed part of the body camera footage on Nov. 2 at around 10 a.m. A day later, they filed an open records request to see all of the footage regarding the deadly shooting because they claim the videos they watched did not match MPD's description of what happened.

About a month later, MPD sent the family a letter denying their request saying it's, "the subject of a pending internal investigation."

"The police killed my son, they lied to me I, I had this feeling that something was wrong," Webb expressed, shaking and with tears in her eyes Tuesday at a press conference.

The videos are currently in the sole custody of MPD. Police said disclosing the video would jeopardize the integrity of the investigation.

"That poses an issue right there…any time there is an incident involving the loss of life, when there's a death, the police departments are not supposed to investigate themselves," said Attorney B’ivory LaMarr.

The Adams family argued the narrative issued is already common knowledge to the public and not being transparent would be a disservice to the community.

"These families deserve the truth and they deserve it immediately," added Attorney LaMarr.

The Adams' family attorney also represents the family of Joel Acevedo, who died after police said an off-duty Milwaukee police officer, Michael Mattioli put him in a chokehold.

Last Friday, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled in the family's favor to make never-before-seen body camera video public. Attorney LaMarr, however, said it is unknown if the video will be released ahead of the jury trial in June. 

The Milwaukee Police Department does release video of critical incidents as part of their "community briefings," which they say promotes transparency and accountability.

CBS 58 News asked MPD when they would release footage involving Adams' death and they said this is not considered a critical incident.

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