FORTY THREE billboards are being paid for by the family of a 21-year-old man killed by Kenosha police in November 2004. All available digital displays (36) in the Milwaukee area of the advertising giant Clear Channel Outdoor have now been leased by the family.
The father, Michael M. Bell, thinks the way Police in-custody deaths are investigated needs to be reformed. He says that it’s essential such investigations be conducted by an independent entity. “An external review panel of at least 3 law enforcement officers appointed by an ELECTED official to judge such incidents is the best way to ensure objectivity, integrity, and fairness,” says Bell. “Our family is also asking that a prosecuting attorney position be specifically assigned to the Attorney General’s office to strictly review police involved fatalities be created. This prosecuting attorney must have the ability to prosecute in any county if questionable police activity occurs.
Kenosha police shot Bell's son, Michael E. Bell, in the head in his driveway after a traffic stop. He was unarmed. The Kenosha County DA declined to charge the officers involved. A department investigation ruled the shooting justified. Bell’s family received a $1.75 million dollar settlement and is using those funds to get their message out.
41 high resolution digital billboards and two vinyl billboards along Milwaukee roadways will display messages similar to "When Police kill, Should they withhold evidence? www.MichaelBell.info. Billboard company statistical data for the 43 roadside displays suggest viewer impressions will exceed 11.6 million per week. “The Traffic Audit Bureau (Nielson ratings for billboards) clearly shows we will now be the commanding voice for those that have no voice.” says Bell. “Most importantly, many of the signs will be right in the heart of suburbia where people drive to work, school, and shopping.”
The billboards show a large smoking gun and words ranging from “Fix the process, Bad Cops stain Good Cops” to “Name one department that found its OWN shooting UNJUSTIFIED.” They also direct viewers to MichaelBell.info or the Facebook page “Plea 4 A Change.” The billboard wording can be changed almost instantly to fit evolving situations.
A public outcry has erupted in the William’s case after Medical Examiner Christopher Poulos changed his findings to homicide after police reports and squad video, were released to the public. Those reports showed force was used in Williams' arrest and that had a role in his death. Additional outcry over racial insensitivity occurred when Darius Simmons, age 13, was shot and killed by neighbor John Spooner (now charged with homicide) and his mother was confined for an hour and a half in a squad car as her son lay dying.
"I call on all good officers and the general public to stand up and get this system changed.” Bell said, “Now is the time for our legislators to fix the law enforcement review process to benefit police and the community alike”
Michael M. Bell
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Article “Examiner: Death was a homicide” Gina Barton 9/23/12
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Article “Family, friends mourn the death of Darius Simmons June 09, 2012 By Rick Romell
Lamar Outdoor Advertising, Jim Lyke, Sales Manager (608)745-6141
Clear Channel Outdoor, Rebecca Magestro, Account Executive (262)506-9005
Traffic Audit Bureau Media Measurement (212)972-8075