, ,

Milwaukee man dies after security guards hold him down outside hotel

Attorneys urge the Milwaukee County district attorney to press charges against the four security guards

Family, friends and attorneys hold a press conference on July 8 asking for answers surrounding the death of D’Vontaye Mitchell. Margaret Faust/WPR

Civil rights attorneys are calling for transparency and accountability after a man died outside a hotel in downtown Milwaukee on June 30.

D’Vontaye Mitchell, a 43-year-old Black man, died after four security guards held him down outside the Hyatt Regency hotel. In videos circulating on social media, at least one security officer appears to be kneeling on his back.

Attorneys representing the family are calling on the Milwaukee County District Attorney to press charges against the guards.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“When it’s our community, we have to come and fight so hard to get simple justice,” said civil rights attorney Ben Crump said. “The inhumanity of it all, is just put on full display.”

According to police, Mitchell went into the hotel and caused a disturbance. He fought with security guards as they were escorting him outside where they detained him. When police arrived he was unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.

Family wants to better understand what happened

Dozens of Mitchell’s family members and supporters gathered outside the hotel on Monday, urging the Milwaukee Police Department, city leaders and Hyatt to release more information, including surveillance and body camera video.

“We want transparency. And we want accountability. And that is what will lead to justice,” Crump said.

The attorneys also urge the Milwaukee County district attorney to press charges against the four security guards who detained Mitchell before he died.

Video captured by a bystander shows Mitchell asking for help and apologizing. Meanwhile, a guard points at Mitchell and says, “This is what happens when you go into the ladies room.”

A Hyatt spokesperson said the hospitality groups suspended the employees involved in the incident.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to all those who knew and loved Mr. Mitchell. We are working swiftly with the hotel’s third-party operator, Aimbridge Hospitality, to understand the full extent of what transpired,” the hotel said in a statement.

Mitchell may have been experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of the incident. B’Ivory LaMarr, another attorney with the family, called for security guards to receive crisis training.

“This is what happens when you fail to recognize that a mental illness is not a death sentence. It is not. It’s a disability,” LaMarr said.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said the preliminary cause of death is homicide. Meanwhile, the police department said the death is under investigation.

Loved ones mourn their loss

Crump argued the situation is being swept “under the rug” as the Republic National Convention starts in Milwaukee a week from Monday.

Family including his wife, mother and siblings spoke of their love for Mitchell.

“He didn’t deserve what they did to him. He deserved so much more. His life was worth so much more,” said his wife Deasia Harmon.

She said he was smart and fun, and he loved to sing and dance.

His mother, Brenda Giles, described losing her son as “devastating” and “frustrating.”

There will be a candle light vigil outside the hotel on Wednesday. The funeral will be held on Thursday at Holy Redeemer Church.

Crump said he will file a lawsuit if more video is not released.

“We got two justice systems in America. One for Black America and one for white America,” Crump said. “Now we got to have equal justice for everybody in the United States of America.”