The Kenosha County sheriff said in 2018 that a group of black theft suspects ‘need to disappear’ and should be ‘warehoused’ so they wouldn’t have children now faces calls for his resignation over his handling of the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Sheriff David Beth apologized in late January 2018 for comments that he made at a news briefing after his deputies arrested four adults and a minor – all of whom are black.
The five were taken into custody after leading deputies on a high-speed chase.
Deputies were in pursuit of the suspects who allegedly stole some $4,800 worth of clothing from a Tommy Hilfiger store in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
‘I think at some point society has to get so fed up that they are no longer willing to tolerate people who are not an asset to society,’ Beth told reporters at the January 25, 2018, news conference.
‘I think we have to create a threshold where, once you cross the threshold, Wisconsin, the United States, builds warehouses where we put these people who have been deemed to be no longer an asset, that are really a detriment, like these five people.’
Saying he was tired of being ‘politically correct,’ Beth added: ‘I have no issue with these five people completely disappearing.
‘At (this) point, these people are no longer an asset to our community, and they just need to disappear.’
Days later, Beth issued an apology after meeting with members of the Kenosha branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
‘In the press conference, I should have kept my comments better directed toward the incident itself and not allowed my emotions to get the better of me at the time,’ Beth said in a letter of apology that was released to the news media.
‘I have been involved in hundreds of on camera interviews and press conferences and have shared my emotions before, but never in this fashion or this extent.
‘My goal is to do my best to protect those that live, work, play or travel through Kenosha County.
‘In the situation last week, my comments did not necessarily live up to even my own expectations for my office, and I again apologize.’
The five suspects were taken into custody the day before Beth’s news conference.
At around 4:10pm on January 24, 2018, a theft was reported at the Tommy Hilfiger store at Prime Outlets in Pleasant Prairie.
Employees of the store called the police after three men came into the store, grabbed several articles of clothing, and ran from the building before fleeing in a silver Pontiac, according to Kenosha News.
Even though the men were only in the store for a couple of minutes, employees said they managed to grab nearly $5,000 worth of merchandise.
The employees told police that there were two people waiting inside the Pontiac.
A few minutes after the 911 call, a Kenosha County Sheriff’s deputy spotted a silver Pontiac heading north on Interstate 94.
The deputy attempted to pull over the vehicle, which was reaching speeds of up to 111mph.
The Pontiac eventually got off the interstate and onto another roadway, where it ran a red light and crashed into two vehicles in the intersection.
One of the vehicles was driven by a 16-year-old boy who had just gotten his driver’s license.
There were no injuries in the crash, though the vehicles did sustain minor damage.
After the crash, all five suspects got out of the silver Pontiac and fled on foot.
One of the suspects, Wanda Winslow, 23, was tracked down by police with the help of a K9.
Kevion Thompson, 18; Eugene Scull, 18; and Sandra Smith, 20, who was the driver of the Pontiac, were all taken into custody.
Another suspect, a 16-year-old, did not appear in court as an adult.
Thompson, Scull, and Smith were charged with felony retail theft and obstructing.
Winslow was also hit with the same charge as well as an additional charge of jumping bail. At the time of the arrest, she was out on bond for a misdemeanor resisting-obstructing police charge from Milwaukee County.
The five suspects were also believed to be involved in other thefts in Illinois.
In a January 26, 2018, interview with Fox 6 TV, Beth used the word ‘cancer’ when describing the suspects and their alleged thieving spree.
‘You worry about the cancer spread,’ he said.
‘This is a terrible cancer. These five people, or maybe a few other people involved in this in the last two weeks, have stolen $40,000 from different stores.’
Beth and Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis have faced intense scrutiny in recent days after Sunday’s police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake.
Blake, a black man, was shot seven times in the back from point-blank range by a Kenosha police officer who was responding to a domestic disturbance call from his girlfriend.
The shooting has left Blake, a father of six children, paralyzed.
Wisconsin’s attorney general revealed that Blake had a knife inside his vehicle, though it is unclear if the knife was on him at the time he was shot.
Blake’s shooting, which was in full view of his three children who were in the back seat of their SUV, sparked nationwide outrage.
Officer Rusten Sheskey was identified as the policeman who shot Blake.
Since the shooting, Kenosha has been engulfed in protests and rioting which has left businesses destroyed.
Two people have been killed in the civil unrest in Kenosha that followed.
On Wednesday afternoon 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested and charged for the shooting in Kenosha that killed the two protesters – Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26 – and injured another person, 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz, in a possible vigilante attack just before midnight Tuesday.
The police-obsessed teen was arrested in his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, about 15 miles from Kenosha, and was charged with first degree intentional homicide.
He was arrested after video footage emerged of him walking up to police with his hands in the air and his semi-automatic rifle slung across his body before the shooting.
The ACLU is demanding that Beth and Miskinis resign after accusations that Rittenhouse was allowed to leave the scene of the shooting even as others nearby yelled that he was the gunman.
Beth’s deputies were also seen on video ‘fraternizing’ with white supremacist counter-protesters on Tuesday, according to the ACLU.
Beth said that his deputies missed the gunman because were there distractions on the ground, including ‘screaming’ and ‘hollering’ as well as ‘nonstop radio traffic.’
‘In situations that are high stress, you have such an incredible tunnel vision,’ Beth said.
Miskinis prompted outrage when he said that the shootings from Tuesday night were a result of people violating curfew.
His comment was perceived as blaming the victims for their deaths.