In a case with similarities to the recent shooting of a mentally ill camper in the Sandia foothills, well known local activist Jewel Hall said Monday that she has received a $725,000 settlement from the city of Saginaw, Mich., where her own mentally ill son died in a hail of police bullets.
Milton Hall, 49, died July 1, 2012, in the parking lot off a busy commercial road following an altercation over a cup of coffee from a convenience store just across the street. Eight Saginaw officers responded to the scene, and Hall, who was agitated and fearful when a police dog was released, brandished a three-inch pen knife. Saginaw police officers fired up to 47 live rounds at him, hitting him at least 11 times — five of those shots in the back, according to a press release about the settlement issued by Jewell Hall’s attorneys.
A resident of the Albuquerque metro area since 1977, Jewel Hall is a retired Albuquerque Public Schools teacher and is the president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Center as well as the Dr. Martin Luther King Multicultural Council.
A passerby’s video of the shooting of her son, available online from CNN and YouTube, appears to show Milton Hall backing away and turning around after a police dog was deployed, only to be met with rapid fire discharge of bullets.
The scenario is similar to the recent shooting of James Boyd in the foothills, which was recorded by a police officer’s helmet camera. Boyd, too, was brandishing knives, appeared fearful when a police dog was let loose, and seemed to be backing away and turning around when he was shot repeatedly by officers.
The shooting of Hall, like the shooting of Boyd, initiated public outrage and protests. The police chief there, like the chief here, initially defended the actions of the officers and said the victim was long known to police as a troubled and violent individual.
The Department of Justice investigated the shooting in Saginaw, as they are currently doing with the shooting in Albuquerque. In Michigan, the DOJ concluded it didn’t find any “willful misconduct” or intent on the part of the police officers and did not pursue federal criminal charges against them.
Jewel Hall, who has a copy of the DOJ ruling, said she has a different take on it: “They committed murder,” she said, describing the officers as “a firing squad dressed in police uniforms,”
While police never admitted guilt, the $725,000 settlement “speaks volumes with respect to the validity of the claim,” said Jewel Hall’s Michigan attorney, Debra Freid.
“It was never about the money for Jewel, anyway, but it had to be a substantial sum to make sure something like this didn’t happen again, and to serve as recognition of the value of her son’s life, despite his illness,” she said.