BLM and other activists are marching on Aug. 21 for a man named Juan Ariel Perez, who was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer in 2005.
We thought you might be interested in the details of what actually happened in that case, according to news articles at the time. Thus, we reviewed the Newspapers.com archives for reporting from the time of shooting. The archives show the officer an inquest jury didn’t recommend charges (and the DA didn’t file them) after he testified about a violent fight in which he said Perez, 17, tried to grab his gun and didn’t respond to orders to comply. Pepper spray didn’t deter him. The old articles say Perez was attacking his girlfriend when the officer arrived and tried to help her. The inquest jury believed the officer had probable cause to believe Perez was endangering his life.
An old Wisconsin State Journal article says that “the teen then attacked (the officer), hitting him in the head and body with his fists.” A Police Department spokeswoman said the officer told investigators Perez “tried to grab his gun.”
“Today, TPR (The People’s Revolution) will be joining our revolutionary family Bella Bella, as she remembers Juan ‘Ariel’ Perez, killed by MPD officer. We will learn who Juan was and what he meant to others in the Southside community of family & friends. We will then march through the south, showing love & sharing our voices until we get justice & change those laws. #WalkWithUs #WhichOne #HowManyMore. Meet up at 5:30pm, Mitchell Park Domes (parking lot). #LongLiveTheRevolution,” wrote Khalil Coleman of the People’s Revolution, which is part of the BLM movement in Milwaukee. The Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement has also written about the death. Another post says, “We cannot forget our Southside sons in this time of change, struggle and injustice.”
According to a 2006 story in the Oshkosh Northwestern, the police officer in question told the inquest jury that “Juan Ariel Perez struck him in the face, ripped open his uniform shirt and seemed unfazed by pepper spray during an Aug. 21 (2005) incident. The sergeant said he tried to kick Perez in the groin and use a headlock as they wrestled in the street, but nothing seemed to work.”
“I was dazed from being hit, I thought my life was in jeopardy,” he said.
He also told the jury, according to the old Northwestern story: “I believed his hand was on top of my wrist and that he was trying to disarm me. I pulled the gun, turned it to his abdomen and fired. I thought my life was in danger and that he was out to knock me out or kill me.”
What else happened in that shooting death?
The Officer Testified That Perez Refused to Comply, Didn’t respond to Pepper Spray, Violently Attacked Him & Tried to Grab His Gun
According to a 2006 story in the Appleton Post-Crescent, an inquest jury found the police officer justified in the shooting death.
The jury deliberated for less than two hours before reaching its advisory verdict to then Milwaukee County DA E. Michael McCann, a Democrat. The jury found that the police officer in question “had probable cause to believe his life was in danger when he shot Juan Ariel Perez” in August 2016, the Post-Crescent story reported.
The officer “testified he was investigating a nearby hit-and-run accident when he found a damaged car. Perez’s girlfriend had been driving.” The officer heard a girl screaming, ‘leave me alone and get off of me,” according to the newspaper. Perez didn’t have a weapon.
The officer “found the couple fighting” and told Perez to leave her alone. He “didn’t comply” so the officer tried pepper spray.
Perez died “from a single gunshot to the chest,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
According to the Kenosha News, in a 2006 article, Perez’s blood alcohol level was “double the level at which the law presumes intoxication.”