Family vows during funeral to push for charges after Black man pinned to ground outside hotel

Family vows during funeral to push for charges after Black man pinned to ground outside hotel

With chants of “Justice for D’Vontaye,” family and friends gathered Thursday for the funeral of a Black man who died after being pinned to the ground by security guards outside a Milwaukee hotel.

Family vows during funeral to push for charges after Black man pinned to ground outside hotel

And while remembering D’Vontaye Mitchell as a son, husband and brother, they vowed to push for charges against those responsible for his death.

“We’re going to fight. We’re not going to give up,” his mother, Brenda Giles, said at Milwaukee’s Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God in Christ.

Mitchell, 43, was held down on his stomach June 30 outside the hotel. Police have said he entered the hotel, caused a disturbance and fought with the guards as they were escorting him out.

A medical examiner has said the preliminary cause of death was homicide, but the cause remains under investigation. No one has been criminally charged, so far.

Aimbridge Hospitality, the company that manages the hotel has said several employees involved in Mitchell’s death have been fired.

“The conduct we saw from several associates on June 30 violated our policies and procedures, and does not reflect our values as an organization or the behaviors we expect from our associates,” a spokesperson for Aimbridge Hospitality said in an email. “Following review of their actions, their employment has been terminated. We will continue our independent investigation and do everything we can to support law enforcement with their investigation into this tragic incident.”

The spokesperson did not say how many employees had been fired or what their positions were.

But the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader who delivered the eulogy Thursday, said being fired is “not enough.”

You should not lose just your job when D’Vontaye lost his life,” he said. “What they did was a crime and criminals need to be prosecuted. And criminals need to face the penalty of their action.”

“This wasn’t a mistake at the job,” Sharpton continued. “This was taking somebody’s life, and there is no justice until you pay for the life you’ve taken. We’re not asking for an apology. We’re asking for justice.”

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office said Wednesday that it and police investigators were awaiting full autopsy results and that the case was being reviewed as a homicide.

Family members of Mitchell and their lawyers reviewed hotel surveillance video provided Wednesday by the district attorney’s office and described seeing Mitchell being chased inside the hotel by security guards and then dragged outside where he was beaten.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is part of a team of lawyers representing Mitchell’s family, has said video recorded by a bystander and circulating on social media shows security guards with their knees on Mitchell’s back and neck.

He said Wednesday that they have a signed affidavit from a hotel employee who said a security guard was striking Mitchell with a baton and that Mitchell posed no threat when he was on the ground. The worker said a security guard ordered him and a bellman to help hold Mitchell down, Crump said.

Sharpton, a longtime activist and leader who serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, asked if a white person would have been treated the same.

“White folks don’t get in disturbances in Milwaukee?” Sharpton said during the funeral. “Do y’all throw white folks to the ground and put your knee on their neck? The sentence for disturbance is death?”

“The only difference between D’Vontaye and any of us is they didn’t grab us, yet,” Sharpton said. “This man did nothing for what he got.”

It is unclear why Mitchell was at the hotel or what happened before the guards pinned him down.

DeAsia Harmon, Mitchell’s widow, described what she saw on the surveillance videos as “disgusting.” Harmon said video showed a bleeding Mitchell being dragged outside the hotel.

“It makes me sick to my stomach,” Harmon said during a news conference Wednesday. “He ran for his life. He was trying to leave. He said ‘I’ll go,’ and they didn’t let him go.”

Sharpton compared Mitchell’s death to the death of George Floyd, a Black man slain in May 2020 by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death spurred worldwide protests against racial violence and police brutality.

Then-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was videotaped with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Chauvin later was convicted of Floyd’s murder.

“I thought ya’ll learned that you can’t put your knee on our necks,” said Sharpton, who is Black. “But if we have to go from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, you’re going to learn to keep your knees off of our necks.”

Mitchell’s death comes as Milwaukee is preparing for Monday’s start of the Republican National Convention and amid heightened security concerns around political protests.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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