By Dylan Deprey
The night began as a celebration of life for Hercules Brown Sr. and his family as they celebrated his 83rd birthday. Aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and grandchildren packed into the house he and the family had lived in for the past 44 years.
As the clock was about to strike 10pm on Sept. 3, 2017, Alisa Brown, daughter, called 911 for a disturbance on the block. There was no immediate response. Another call was made, several minutes later and she saw an MPD squad drive by with no headlights or sirens on. She thought the block was safe.
Brown and her son walked towards their cars parked a couple houses down on N. 39th St. toward the intersection at W. Congress. As she looked back, her son was being pulled out of his car and beat on by several young men. After running to help her son, she was punched in the face by one of the attackers and went to the ground.
Brown Sr. ran out to mediate the conflict as screaming had ensued.
“I hadn’t seen the police anywhere, and I was standing on the street trying to make peace,” Brown Sr. said. “I don’t know if they were in a parked car or what, but I didn’t see lights on.”
Inside the living room, Hercules Brown Jr. watched as three of his nieces and nephews played along with two other children towards the back of the house.
As the fight proceeded, Brown Sr.’s nephew Antwon Springer (36) stood on the porch alongside his cousin who had been sitting and fired a shot in the air to scare away the attackers.
According to family, Springer had learning disabilities, was legally blind and received SSI. He was also a kidney transfer survivor.
“He couldn’t even run if he wanted to,” Brown said. “Several months ago, his toes were amputated and was threatened with losing his leg.”
Following the gunshots, two officers flanked from both sides of the porch. The officers told Springer to put his hands down as they had him in their sights. He put his hands down while still holding the gun.
“Antwon was still as a rock,” Brown Sr. said. “He did not move, and he listened to their commands and didn’t move one way or another.”
While Alisa Brown was on the ground, she as well as others yelled at the top of their lungs to the officers.
“I screamed, ‘Twon!’ and then I screamed, ‘He’s blind, he’s blind,’” Brown said. “Everyone was screaming ‘He’s blind’
As Brown Sr. watched from the road he said the officer on the right yelled something and immediately shot, and then the officer on the left fired as well. One of the slugs had hit the house leaving a hole nearly 6 inches away from the door.
As Springer bled out on the front porch, a swarm of officers flooded the yard and told family and bystanders to lay on the ground.
“My aunt was laying on the ground and she yelled ‘call 911,’ because the police did not initially help him,” Brown said. “Now, I realize why most of the victims die on the scene because they are not given CPR and 911 is not called immediately.”
Springer eventually died on the scene.
The Nightmare Unfolds
Brown said they were separated from each into the early morning hours waiting to be questioned by police, not having questions answered in what she said felt like a dark limbo.
Springer’s 13-year-old son was inside the house just having witnessed his father’s death, along with the other children. The family was not allowed back into the house, and everybody’s cellphones were confiscated as evidence.
“I had to beg to go to the bathroom and they said, ‘No.’ I asked if I could check on my dad to see if he was ok, and they said ‘No.’ I asked, ‘why?’ and they said it was because we might come up with a story and they don’t want us to talk.”
“I sat there freezing cold not knowing what was going on with our family members, what was going on with my nephew, and any time I asked a question they wouldn’t answer,” Brown said.
Brown said her father also asked to use the facilities multiple times and was denied access, and they sat outside until around 6am until questioning was over. She said around 2:30am officers gave her the option to ask a neighbor to use their bathroom or she could be driven to the nearest police station.
She added that when her father and asked if he understood MPD’s policy. Brown asked why her father would know their policy, and the officer answered, “Our policy is to shoot to kill.”
“Really, that’s an appropriate thing to say to someone who just saw their grandson killed. You’re really going to add more insult to injury?” Brown said.
“This is an event I never thought I would be a part of,” Brown said. “I can’t believe what I saw, and it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
The Convicted Felon Card
The headlines the next day broadcasted, “Convicted felon shot, killed by police during fight in street.”
A simple Wisconsin Circuit Court search would show that Springer had never had a violent crime on his record. The felony that was mentioned stretched back to when he was 19-years-old.
Andrea Brown, Springer’s aunt, said when Springer and his friends had chipped in with him on a brand new car and the title that a friend’s uncle was selling.
“We tried to explain to him that you can’t buy a brand-new car for $200,” Brown said.
As Springer was driving around in his new car he was pulled over, and took the wrap for his friends because he was the oldest in the group. So, the felony that was mentioned in the headline happened nearly 20 years ago.
The other charges on Springer’s record included felony possession of a gun in 2006, which stemmed from his charge as a young adult, a disorderly conduct charge and two marijuana possession charges.
“He’s not a violent guy,” Brown said. “He was one of the most loving people you could ever meet.”
Family Questions if Black Lives Really Matter in Milwaukee?
Whether it was diving deep into the past and taking a look at the criminal justice system that locked Continued from page 3 After 190 Years, the Global Impact of the Black Press Is Still Undeniable up a young man with learning disabilities for a misunderstanding, or the unnecessary death of a man that would have been charged with felony possession of a firearm, the family was left with many unanswered questions.
“I really want to know if Black Lives Matter because when the police came and started shooting they didn’t’ care about my cousin, they didn’t care about Antwon and they didn’t care about the five children and two adults sitting in the house, because bullets don’t have names,” Brown Jr. said.
According to the family, no one from MPD has offered condolences or checked in on the family, and they said everyone from the adults to children have experienced trauma they should never have endured. Whether its picturing a favorite cousin being gunned down by those meant to serve and protect, or a gunshot hole that will leave a disturbing memory every time someone walks through the front door, the family will forever be scarred.
“If we had the desire or my nephew had the desire to bring harm to the police, why would we call them to my dad’s home? We called for a rescue and instead we left here as victims. Our hearts are ruined, our lives are ruined. A home that we’ve lived in since 1973, how do we call it home again?” Brown said.