Points to Ponder About the Manistee Police Shooting of Lee Milks

Manistee homeowner Lee Pat Milks dies in a hail of bullets from a code enforcement officer who wouldn't leave Milks property when asked.  The public is otherwise relieved that the officer lives to utilize his poor judgment in the future.   The media reports from second-hand accounts of Manistee's police chief the story that they want you to hear, the other side, for some reason, is deadly silent: 

Google: Michigan officer fatally shoots 73-year-old man

MANISTEE, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a 73-year-old man has died after being shot by a police officer in Michigan.

Manistee Public Safety Director Dave Bachman says the officer shot Lee Pat Milks after the man came out of a house with a gun Tuesday evening and told the officer to go away. Police say the officer was conducting ordinance enforcement, which can involve such things as investigating blight complaints and abandoned vehicles.

Bachman says the officer told Milks to drop the gun. Bachman says Milks had "stopped, chambered a round and was bringing the weapon to bear on the officer" when the officer fired multiple times.

Investigators say they don't believe he fired at the officer, who wasn't hurt.

Michigan State Police are investigating. Bachman says the officer is on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Earlier today WZZM TV reported: Police say that Milks had previously been informed that the old bus in his backyard needed to be removed, but the city had not taken any official action and there was no deadline to have it removed.  A neighbor says the bus had sentimental value to Milks because he live in it for a time in Alaska.

Other media as far ranging as Time Magazine and the United Kingdom's Daily Mail took up the story, reporting small variations on the story put out on Google News.  Nearly a day after the shooting there are several questions that discerning members of the public should ask in this situation.

1)  Why have they not released the ordinance enforcers name, and whether he was uniformed and whether he was sent expressly to Milk's residence to do his job?

2)  Was the officer trespassing on Milk's property?  Milk did ask the officer to go away, one would presume that had the officer retreated off the man's property and de-escalated the situation, the decision to use lethal force would have been avoided.  But each story has the officer asking Milk to put the gun down, this wasn't a lawful command for him to give at that point, as the officer was the only one in violation of a law at that point.

3) The above is a picture of Milk's front porch (from the WZZM video) indicating that Milk was in that vicinity when the shots were fired.  The front door had tempered glass, which would shatter if struck by only one bullet, most would fall inside the house.  Why is there so much glass on the outside, and why isn't there apparently any blood evidence on the outside?  Was he shot while he was inside his home?

4)  Lee Pat Milks appears to have had a crystal clear record over his 73 years of life, he apparently had no problems outstanding with Manistee other than the bus which they hadn't got on him about (you will notice he had a "For Sale" sign in the window for it).  A city official walked on his land, would not get off his property when asked, made unlawful demands to Milks, radioed for backup instead of de-escalating the situation, and then...

We are forced to believe his story that Milks was about to load his weapon and fire at him, and that the only way he could change that was by sending four slugs at the septuagenarian who would be otherwise enjoying the safety and security of the property he owned, were it not for the apparent unauthorized intrusion by Officer Doe, an officer who definitely needs more training in how to conduct himself in the course of his duties.

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Does the Manistee Blight Ordinance supersede a person's Constitutional Rights?

Doesn't Ludington's blight and tall grass ordinance operate under the same premise as Manistee's?

I've never heard of a "code enforcement officer" carrying a gun, so I'm assuming the person who killed the home owner was in fact a police officer. If this is so, why was he involved with enforcing property code violations? This is another situation where a body cam could reveal the truth. Without a camera we only have the officer's word as to what really happened.

 I have talked to code enforcement  in ludington, never seen a weapon, doesn't mean he didn't have one . I think it was Rottas buddy.    Don't know what the procedure is in manistee or ludington, in another town that I lived I called code enforcement  on the neighbor because he for some reason was filling his large dog pen with household garbage instead of putting it out for the garbage truck to pick up. When code enforcement showed up I showed him the situation and he said how do you know he's filling the pen with the garbage? What? who else would be? I told him to knock on his door and tell him to clean it up, the reply was he couldn't go on the property.  I called the land lord who brought more garbage cans , there were already 3 . He must have talked to the neighbor as he emptied the dog pen , threw all the garbage over the fence some on my property and never put any in the cans. Garbage man would only pick up what's in cans so I cleaned up the mess

Stump, you undoubtedly refer to my buddy Code Enforcement/SS Officer Jerry Welton who went all over town just to unlawfully steal my campaign signs from several places where they were rightfully placed.  Welton was the guy who not only helped start my career as XLFD back in June 2008 when he lied about the city's policies even when they were thrust in front of him, but also nearly killed me back in 2013 when he almost ran me over after violating my right of way. 

Welton did die on Valentine's Day this year, so I will not speak further ill of him out of respect for his friends, family, and fellow fascists at city hall.  It is my understanding that him and his successor, Virginia Ruiz, do not carry guns.  I would have likely been shot for having signs too close to the street (in his opinion) back in 2011 if he was carrying.   I will be looking into Manistee's policies, as you can believe that Officer Doe would have played it wiser if he was not carrying a piece that day. 

stump it is still strange that the code enforcement dude wouldn't go up and knock on the door unless he had a prior altercation with the renter who sound like a real piece of work.

You showed a great tolerance in this situation by taking care of this issue in house.

I asked the City of Manistee for three things in a recent FOIA request, effectively:  1) The 'use of force' report for the Milks' shooting incident 2) the police report and supplements for the Milks shooting incident and 3) the code enforcement records pertaining to Milks' address since 2015. 

The City Manager refused ALL records claiming the 'investigation records' exemption, even though, as per all news reports, the Michigan State Police is in control of the investigation and neither could be construed as investigation records in and of themselves by any sane metric (the police report may contain some properly exempt data, but definitely not all of it). 

It's been appealed, of course.

Attachments:

Well X, if Thad Taylor is the Manistee City Mgr., he doesn't even have to sign a FOIA denial? cl is the clerk/secretary that signed on his behalf. Per the article, I don't see where Milk's was given written notice of a violation, and they should have that as evidence in writing, via Certified Mail. I would think three notices over a period of 90 days without answer would warrant an appearance on his property. Was that done? Also, I don't see where that bus is really a nuisance/blight. It's in Milk's backyard behind a fence, and no other debris is around as far as I can see. And the article and statement says the shooter is a police officer, not a code enforcement guy, so, who was it really? All these questions are unanswered for me. Regardless though, I see no reason why backup didn't arrive on the scene, and put this situation to a peaceful rest, or delay the actions to a future date. Instead, we have a citizen, rightfully trying to protect his Constitutional rights of private property, being gunned down like he was Jesse James or some high profile criminal. Expect this in the big city where violence is out of control. Don't expect this in small rural areas around west Michigan. Yet, we are seeing this escalate for absolutely no valid or legal reason. The "gun mindset" seems to be outweighing any other form of correctional tools like it's the only option to use nowadays. Sad, and needless policing imho. Manistee website says Cindy Lokovich is the secretary, and that's her initials behind Taylor's name. And btw, proper or not, I talked to Jerry Welton too on several occasions, he was an ahole and fascist imho too.

If I am to believe the reply, some code enforcement records exist and have somehow turned into investigation records that would hamper the investigation if released.  That's not likely to hold water in a fair tribunal. 

Everybody I know that rubbed shoulders with Welton (and his replacement Virginia Ruiz) have the same opinion as us.  They must figure they can treat everybody like dirt, just because some citizens ignore them or instruct them on what the codes and laws actually say.

If the Manistee councilors do not decide the issue on their work session meeting on Monday, they will need to do so the next meeting the following Monday-- and I'll get to make a road trip to make my case at their meeting.

Good points Aquaman. In many jurisdictions a vehicle is junk or a nuisance if it can be determined that it is  "inoperable". Many jurisdictions, believe it or not, consider flat tires as constituting an inoperable vehicle therefore it can be deemed to be "junk or a nuisance". Some jurisdictions actually haul the vehicle away after a notice has been sent and no compliance takes place.

The junk (and tall grass) ordinances that were introduced in Ludington about three years ago were imported from Manistee, as you might think considering our 'city attorney' is from the law firm that has served the City of Manistee for a very long time. 

The change from the junk law made before our city attorney arrived was to make it quicker and easier to prosecute.  As typical, this can interfere with a person's due process rights, generate revenue more quickly for the city, and make an otherwise good citizen get angry when the city ramrods things through inappropriately and/or unfairly.  If that bus hadn't moved for a couple weeks, it could be declared a nuisance as a junk vehicle in the strictest sense of the current city codes for both places.

I don't suppose any camera video is available from this incident? That would tell quite a bit to all. I still don't see why they escalated this simple junk law into a homicide. Police are supposed to use good judgement and find peaceful solutions, not start killing anyone that doesn't follow their instructions at the drop of a hat.

Most of the code enforcement encounters I've been part of or heard about have had a common denominator.  A public official who believes they not only have ultimate power over your property, but also the power to encroach upon your property even if they are asked to leave and have no reason to linger. 

The official narrative of the Manistee incident is replete with this attitude by the officer, and afterwards, even when it's clear to anyone aware of civil liberties that the officer was the provocative party to what happened, no city officials are wasting time crying over spilled Milks' blood.

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