Family of Black man who died after being pinned down by hotel security guards is fighting for criminal charges

The 43-year-old’s mom said her son was in the throes of a mental health episode when he was tackled by guards.  (Brenda Giles)
The 43-year-old’s mom said her son was in the throes of a mental health episode when he was tackled by guards. (Brenda Giles)

The family of a Black man who died after private security officers pinned him to the pavement outside a Wisconsin hotel is demanding criminal charges for those responsible.

Dvontaye Mitchell’s death has been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner’s office, which said further testing was underway. The 43-year-old’s mom said her son was in the throes of a mental health episode when he was tackled by guards at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee on June 30, as he pleaded with them to let him go.

The guards have all been suspended, Hyatt representatives said in a statement. However, Milwaukee police said Tuesday that they were not conducting a criminal investigation because there was no “blunt force” involved, but that a probe into what happened was ongoing.

According to Hyatt security, the incident began after Mitchell allegedly went into the women’s restroom in the hotel lobby. Four security guards then muscled Mitchell to the driveway by the hotel entrance, and can be seen on cellphone video kneeling on his back and neck as he apologizes repeatedly and pleads with them to let him go. One of the guards appears to strike Mitchell in the head with an unknown object as another commands Mitchell to “stop fighting.”

Mitchell was unresponsive when police arrived, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has been retained by the Mitchell family.

Crump has compared Mitchell’s death to that of George Floyd, a Black man who died in 2020 when Minneapolis cops detained him and pinned him to the ground on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Crump called for charges to be filed against the Hyatt guards, posting footage of his remarks on Instagram, accompanied by the caption: “We want #JusticeForDvontaye Mitchell! Why is it that [his] death, ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, is not under criminal investigation?! The security personnel involved in… Dvontaye’s death must be held accountable!”

At an earlier press conference held Monday, where video of the shocking incident was screened for reporters, Crump’s co-counsel William Sulton said, “You’re watching a murder, folks. That’s what you’re watching.”

In a statement issued by his office, Crump called Mitchell’s death “deeply troubling,” saying that the family “is now left searching for answers and justice in the face of this tragic loss… It is unacceptable that this case is not being considered a criminal investigation despite the fatal outcome.”

For its part, Hyatt said, “We extend our heartfelt condolences to Dvontaye Mitchell’s family, all those who knew and loved him, and the Milwaukee community in light of this tragedy. Hotels franchised under Hyatt’s brands are required to comply with Hyatt’s mandatory safety and security standards and ensure that the hotel is a safe and secure environment for guests, colleagues and the public. As the investigation continues, Hyatt is fully committed to supporting efforts to help ensure accountability for the circumstances that led to the death of Dvontaye Mitchell.”

The outrage over Mitchell’s death is ramping up just days before the Republican National Convention is set to kick off at Milwaukee’s Fiserve Arena, two blocks from the Hyatt Regency. GOP delegates will be in town from July 15 through July 18 for the nominating confab, during which they are expected to solidify the party’s choice of former Oval Office occupant and newly convicted felon Donald Trump as its 2024 presidential candidate.

Crump and the Mitchell family are scheduled to hold another press conference on Wednesday afternoon to “reveal significant new evidence from a witness,” according to Crump. The group will then conduct a prayer vigil at the Hyatt Regency.

Mitchell’s funeral is set for Thursday morning at Milwaukee’s Holy Redeemer Institutional Church Of God In Christ. Rev. Al Sharpton is expected to deliver the eulogy.