APPLETON, WI –A billboard in Appleton is calling for investigations into officer-involved shootings. The new billboard was put up by a Kenosha family, whose son was killed by police in 2004.
Now, they want laws changed. The family put up the billboard after an Appleton Police officer shot and killed a man this month. The August 10 shooting brings back painful memories for a Kenosha family, trying to make a change.
“I got a phone call about 2 o'clock in the morning, that I don't think any parent ever wants to get,” said Michael Bell.
Michael Bell's son was killed by Kenosha police in 2004. The officer was cleared of any wrong-doing. Bell said his son didn't deserve to die.
“I cannot change the way things are in the state of Wisconsin unless I can tell his story,” said Bell.
Now the family uses money they won in a $1.7 million settlement with the city of Kenosha to put up billboards like the one in Appleton, in communities that experience an officer-involved shooting.
“It looks like it's going to be my mission in life if I have to do it," said Bell.
This billboard went up on College Avenue after Appleton Police Sgt. Greg Pieper shot and killed 61- year old Keith Gabriel at his home.
“The use of force used by Sgt. Pieper was legal and justified,” said Sgt. Pat DeWall with the Appleton Police Dept.
An outside agency and the district attorney conducted their own investigations, and also ruled the shooting was justified.
“All officers throughout Wisconsin, we basically have the same standards of the use of deadly force,” said Sgt. DeWall.
Bell wants to see an elected official investigate all officer-involved shootings. Until then, expect to see more of these billboards.
“We're doing whatever we can to make it right,” said Bell.
Keith Gabriel’s family tells me what Michael Bell is doing with the billboards is a favor to all of Wisconsin.
Sgt. Pieper will return to work this week.