The man from Kenosha who goes on a crusade for a new investigation into the death at the hands of the police 17 years ago, launched a new complaint, this one against Attorney General Josh Kaul and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Michael M. Bell delivers a letter and related documents to an assistant to Governor Tony Evers on Friday. (Erik Gunn | Examiner from Wisconsin)

Michael M. Bell’s complaint, delivered Friday morning to an aide to Governor Tony Evers, accuses Kaul of ignoring repeated requests to meet with him to discuss new information about the police shooting of his son, Michael E. Bell , in November 2004.

Bell also accuses the attorney general of “failing to respond” or to investigate an earlier complaint filed by Bell against a DNA analyst at a state criminal lab. The previous complaint stems from an attempt Bell had already made to request a new investigation into her son’s death.

Further, Bell accuses Kaul of leaving two Kenosha investigations unrelated, one into police misconduct and the other into allegations against two town officials “dying on the vine” by failing them. not making it fast forward.

Bell delivered a cover letter with over 700 pages of material to the governor’s office, briefly meeting with an assistant from Evers to deliver the material.

A spokeswoman for Evers referred a request for comment to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Looking for a new investigation

Bell’s lawsuit against Kaul is the latest in a series of attempts he and a retired Kenosha police officer have made to pressure authorities to look into details of Bell’s son’s fatal shooting. by Kenosha Police.

“I am either looking to be able to present our evidence to the Justice Department and get additional help, as the information currently available does not match, or to speak with the governor and allow him to make a decision on how he wants to handle the situation. Department of Justice, ”Bell said in an interview Friday after handing over the material to Evers’ assistant.

Bell settled a lawsuit for the murder of his son with the town of Kenosha in 2010 for $ 1.75 million. As part of the settlement, “we refused to accept a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement,” he said.

In the years that followed, Bell campaigned for a full new investigation into the events of the night her son was killed. He often noted that the Kenosha Police Department conducted a two-day investigation of its own officers, exonerating them of wrongdoing. Bell has set up a website on which it argues that serious discrepancies in police reporting of the incident warrant a full re-investigation.

During his efforts, Bell pushed the Wisconsin legislature to enact a 2014 state law requiring deaths involving police officers to be investigated by an outside body rather than their own departments.

Bell’s complaint to Evers says he first wrote to Kaul asking him to meet with the attorney general in December 2018, after Kaul was elected, and requested meetings in writing 10 times. “Neither Kaul nor his subordinates, with two exceptions, even failed to acknowledge or respond to any of these ten written requests for a meeting,” the complaint said.

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The second point of Bell’s complaint raises questions unrelated to her son’s death. He blames Kaul for the alleged lack of progress in two Kenosha investigations.

One concerned how police and prosecutors handled the disclosure of a police officer who gave evidence in a homicide case; the other concerned allegations that city officials tampered with and destroyed the city’s digital records.

Kaul “failed to properly supervise some of his deputy attorneys general and subordinate agents,” the complaint says. “This resulted in two very prominent cases of corruption and criminal misconduct by senior Kenosha Town police and town officials’ dying on the vine.”

The third point of Bell’s complaint begins when Bell called for an investigation of John Doe in 2018 to reconsider his son’s death.

One of the many reasons given by Bell for requesting the review was to dispute the allegation that his son was shot after he got hold of the duty pistol of one of the officers involved in the incident. The criminal lab analysis found no evidence of young Bell’s DNA on the holster or handle of this officer’s gun.

Bell argued that the lack of DNA evidence should call into question other details of the police account of the shooting. He raised this question during a meeting with Graveley in 2017.

The prosecutor subsequently wrote to Bell that “there would be no expectation of DNA results in the facts and circumstances described in the death of your son.” Graveley said he based this assessment on information he received from analysts in the Justice Department’s crime lab.

A year later, the prosecutor included this letter in submissions to the judge hearing Bell’s motion for a new investigation into John Doe. The judge dismissed Bell’s petition in March 2019, thwarting the father’s attempt to get a new look at the circumstances of his son’s death.

Questions about “tactile DNA”

Earlier this year, Russell Beckman, a retired police inspector from Kenosha who volunteered on behalf of Bell, filed a complaint with the State Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) against Graveley. Beckman’s OLR complaint accused Graveley of misinterpreting science as to whether useful DNA information could be retrieved from the officer’s weapon and holster.

OLR dismissed Beckman’s complaint; Beckman appealed and included his rebuttal to Graveley’s response to his complaint. This appeal was dismissed and Beckman appealed again.

In his 2017 letter, Graveley said that a telephone conversation with “State Crime Lab DNA analysts” supported his claim that, under the circumstances described in the police accounts, no DNA evidence was found. on the weapon.

In his OLR complaint, Beckman accused the prosecutor of distorting the facts and science of this “touch DNA” evidence.

On March 30, 2021, Bell filed a complaint with the Justice Department requesting an investigation into the anonymous criminal lab analyst Graveley had referred to. His Friday complaint accuses Kaul’s office of not responding.

By failing to do so, the attorney general “has hampered the Bell family’s quest for a legitimate investigation into the 2004 death of their son at the hands of Kenosha police,” Bell’s complaint states.

Lawsuits in progress

Bell has two pending court cases relating to his son’s death. One is a libel lawsuit against the officer who killed his son and who wrote a self-published book about the incident using fictitious names.

Bell notebooks
Bell’s complaint and related documents fill two loose-leaf binders. (Erik Gunn | Examiner from Wisconsin)

The other is a lawsuit demanding that the Kenosha town returns the ball that police said was the fatal projectile. Bell and an investigator he hired believe this could show that the shot was fired in the opposite direction to that described by police in their reports.

The documents attached to Bell’s complaint contain two large loose-leaf binders, but Bell said he delivered the documents on USB drives to the governor’s office as well as to five state lawmakers whose districts include parts. of Kenosha County.

The retired Air Force Lt. Col. said he briefly met with the chief of staff of each of the five lawmakers on Friday: Reps Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem), Tip McGuire (D-Kenosha) and Tod Ohnstad (D-Kenosha), and state Sens. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Bob Wirch (D-Somers).

“I am waiting for everyone to review the complaint and then respond to me in writing so that we can understand what is going on,” he said.

Is Bell worried about whether his complaint will be heard fairly by lawmakers in the polarized political environment on Capitol Hill?

“All I know is that as the father of a person killed by a police officer, I found new evidence and approached the attorney general 10 times,” he said. answered. “And no one in the Justice Department except one person ever bothered to answer for anything.

“What goes on between lawmakers is beyond my control,” Bell continued. “If this is a point of contention, well, that might be fine because it could be looked at under a microscope, and other changes and recommendations might result.”


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