The latest chapter in Kenosha County District Attorney’s case against two Zion, Illinois, residents happened Friday as the Kenosha Police Department released new video and information about the events from that evening.
Jermelle English Jr., Shanya Boyd and their 1-year-old son went to a Kenosha Applebee’s to have dinner on July 20 when they were mistakenly identified as suspects in a nearby hit-and-run crash. The people believed to be the actual suspects were in a bathroom of the restaurant.
The evening was captured on surveillance and cellphone footage by restaurant employees and soon a viral clip showing English being forcefully arrested while holding his baby led to reaction from lawyers, advocates and a police department in a city that is no stranger to strife.
Despite having nothing to do with the crash, English and Boyd received criminal charges from Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley’s office. Soon, Jay-Z announced that he was hiring acclaimed attorney Alex Spiro for English.
Kenosha police released an 11-minute video on Friday that was narrated by Chief Patrick Patton. He said the “snippet of video” showing officers arresting English is “not the entire story.”
A crash occurred at about 11 p.m. that Thursday near the Applebee’s at Highway 50 and Green Bay Road. Soon witnesses provided accounts to officers in the video, including that people fled the scene.
Patton said one account was one Black man, one Black woman and a baby. However, a 911 caller said they witnessed more people than that and police said at the time it was two Black males and one Black female.
Witnesses go on to provide descriptions to an officer that include the woman was possibly wearing a red shirt, had her hair in a bun, and was holding a baby.
At about 11:11 p.m., an employee at the Applebee’s calls police and says that officers just entered asking if a man, woman and baby entered the restaurant and she was calling back because she just noticed English and Boyd and that they “look very nervous.” She said English and Boyd wanted to leave after seeing the police.
Officers return and approach English and Boyd after employees identify them as the man, woman and baby that the employee called dispatch about.
English refuses to answer questions but police persist because they are investigating the crash, Patton said. Officers tell English he matches the description because he is holding a baby and has red shorts on. Boyd has her hair in a bun.
Officers ask that English tell them which car he drove to the restaurant in, to which he says “go check the camera” and refuses to answer. Patton said had English pointed to his car then the investigation “could have” ended. But it didn’t.
Patton said officers continued to question the couple because English lied about how long they were in the restaurant, saying an hour and 45 minutes versus the manager’s statement of 20 minutes.
Soon, English gets up holding the baby and walks away. Police tell him to stop. Boyd says “we’re not under arrest” and an officer says “you are detained right now until we can figure it out.”
The situation escalates when an officer grabs English by the arm and a struggle ensues while English is holding the baby. Patton said because English resisted this is considered disorderly conduct because he caused a “significant disturbance.”
At one point, an officer identified by Kenosha police as Michael Vences, is seen striking English.
Police said Friday that Vences was suspended for four days. An investigation from the West Allis Police Department found that “(Vences) should have re-evaluated the effectiveness of those strikes and considered other options to overcome Mr. English’s resistance.” Vences also failed to complete a full report from the incident.
Police said a second officer, Luke Courtier, was suspended for 10 days. Courtier failed to decontaminate Boyd after utilizing pepper spray.
Boyd was also forcefully arrested and a struggle ensued after she yelled out for someone to protect the baby. Pepper spray was deployed, but Patton said the baby was not exposed because the baby was on the opposite end of the restaurant.
Also provided by police is footage of the discovery of the people believed to be suspects in the crash in the bathroom of the Applebee’s. There were more than two adults and one person was wearing a red shirt.
Due to the events inside the restaurant, prosecutors charged Boyd with resisting an officer, disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana. English was charged with resisting an officer and disorderly conduct.
Patton points to a state law for detaining the couple that allows officers to stop people in a public space “for a reasonable period of time when the officer reasonably suspects that such person is committing, is about to commit or has committed a crime.”
Tanya McLean, executive director of Leaders of Kenosha, said police often point to this state law. “That’s the one they quote and cite all the time when they need a reason that bad policing happened,” she said.
McLean is speaking out again after another incident brings up questions surrounding policing in Kenosha, where the 2020 police shooting of Jacob Blake took place.
The shooting touched off days of violent protests in Kenosha, during which Kyle Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 28. A jury later acquitted Rittenhouse of all charges in the case after concluding he acted in self-defense.
McLean said the officers who were suspended should have been fired and the video released by police Friday is “tone deaf.”
“I was amazed at the level of victim shaming and blaming. … Chief Patton isn’t typically a tone-deaf person,” she said.
“Jermelle was clearly fighting. As most Black and Brown people do when they are confronted by police officers who can’t tell you why you are being detained. Because of the history of police departments across this country and Black and Brown people, we’re hesitant.”
English and Boyd have a final pretrial hearing in February. Messages from the Journal Sentinel to their attorneys weren’t immediately returned.
If there is a trial, McLean said it will be quite the task for New York-based Spiro and associates. “Unfortunately, I wish I could say otherwise, but I don’t know what type of justice they’ll be receiving in Kenosha County.”
English and Boyd are also being represented by attorney Kevin O’Connor in civil matters.
O’Connor stood outside the Applebee’s earlier this year demanding the charges be dropped. He was joined by English and Boyd’s family, and activists, including Tavis Grant, the executive director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, founded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Graveley did not respond before publication of this story.
Drake Bentley can be reached at DBentley1@gannett.com or 414-391-5647.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kenosha police release video of arrest of wrong person at Applebee’s