The Mount Pleasant police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Tyrese West in June will not be charged, Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson decided Wednesday.
In a decision released Wednesday evening, Hanson said it was the legal and ethical choice not to charge Sgt. Eric Giese because West continued to reach for his gun as Giese pinned him to the ground.
"His actions put Sergeant Giese at a disadvantage that he could not overcome by other means," Hanson said in a 23-page report that provided the most information yet on the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
A crowd gathered on the steps of the Racine County Courthouse on Wednesday evening in support of West. Family members entered the courthouse about 6 p.m. to meet with Hanson and learn of her decision, and the crowd surged toward the doors. Some people held signs with slogans about justice and Black Lives Matter, while others led chants.
At one point the crowd chanted that it wanted to vote Hanson out of office.
Monique West, Tyrese West's mother, did not join the meeting but instead stood on the steps with the crowd. At one point she received a text message that there wouldn't be any charges. She addressed the crowd and said the family planned to take the case to the federal level.
"Go federal," she said. "That’s all we can do."
Dwight Person, West's father, left the meeting at the courthouse about 7:45 p.m. when much of the crowd had dissipated.
"I want a thorough investigation done, and I also want to see Eric Giese locked up," Person told gathered reporters. He did not take further questions.
Katrina Yarbrough, a relative of Monique West, brought her 8-year-old daughter, Akleemah Gardner, to the courthouse steps. Akleemah held a sign that read, "Say his name ... Tyrese."
Yarbrough said it was important her kids knew about justice issues and how to create change.
According to the district attorney's report:
West was in a stolen car with friends the evening of June 14 headed to a party in Kenosha. Police tried to pull over the car and a short chase ensued. Then the car stopped, and everyone got out of the car and ran.
Police arrested the car's driver, and when they later interviewed him, he said he saw West ride away on a bike.
Not aware of this incident, Giese about 1:30 a.m. June 15 saw West riding his bike without lights, which are required after dark. Giese pulled up to the curb and told West to stop, but he didn't, instead speeding up. He chased West around the block, his squad's emergency lights on, and then pulled in front of him.
West dropped his bike and began to run, and Giese chased after him on foot. Giese was holding his radio in his hand because it was new and he couldn't clip it onto his uniform. He deployed his Taser but the prongs didn't reach West. He saw West throw the gun and then fall to the ground.
Giese caught up to West, who was on his stomach and knees and was reaching his arm out to his gun about 1 to 3 inches away on the ground. Giese had both hands full with his radio and his gun, and he stepped on West's hand to stop him from reaching the gun.
Standing with his legs on either side of West, Giese was telling him to stop moving, but West did not. He was reaching for his gun and trying to push up under Giese, a move that would knock him over.
Eventually West pulled his hand free from under Giese's boot and had access to the gun. Fearing West would shoot him, Giese pivoted to be about 3 feet from him and fired three shots, including two that hit his head.
Mount Pleasant police are allowed discretion in deciding when to turn on their body cameras. Giese didn't turn on his body camera during this interaction, the investigation found. In an interview with police Giese said he didn't have a chance to turn it on during the pursuit.6
Giese has worked at the Mount Pleasant Police Department since 2006 and was promoted to sergeant in 2018. He served with the Army National Guard for 22 years and was in the Marine Corps for four years. He teaches some law enforcement training courses at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha.
Contact Sophie Carson at (414) 223-5512 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @SCarson_News.