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A Black man died after he was pinned to the ground by security guards at a Milwaukee hotel. Now his family wants answers

Hotel operator fires ‘hotel associates’ involved in the death of Dvontaye Mitchell, seen here in Milwaukee on June 30 who was pinned to the ground. (Photo: Mitchell Family/Ben Crump Law PLLC via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — The death of a Black man after he was pinned to the ground by security guards at a Wisconsin hotel last month has left his family with more questions than answers – despite parts of the encounter being captured by witnesses.

Dvontaye Mitchell, 43, was at the downtown Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee on June 30, where police allege he “caused a disturbance,” prompting security guards to escort him out of the hotel, a statement from Mitchell family attorney Ben Crump said.

Part of a video posted on social media shows four security guards pinning Mitchell to the ground. In the video, Mitchell can be heard grunting and pleading with the guards, repeatedly saying “please” and “I’m sorry.”

One of the guards, who appears to be White, can be heard saying “stay down,” and “stop fighting,” as the others, who appear to be people of color, hold Mitchell down. The same guard is heard calling out to witnesses, “This is what happens when you go into the ladies room.”

It’s unclear what led up to Mitchell’s encounter with the security guards, how long it took police officers to arrive on the scene, and what Mitchell was doing at the hotel.

When officers arrived, Mitchell was unresponsive and pronounced dead despite lifesaving measures that were taken, Milwaukee Police told CNN on Tuesday without mentioning Mitchell by name.

The preliminary manner of death for Mitchell is homicide, Karen Domagalski from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office told CNN on Tuesday, but the final manner is yet to be determined.

“The cause and manner of death is pending toxicology and further investigation, Domagalski said. “We do not have a timeline for when this case will be finalized.”

The encounter comes as the use of force – particularly against people of color – by police and others in authority roles remains under scrutiny nearly four years after protests flared nationwide following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Now, every time Mitchell’s children turn on the TV, they are reminded of how their father died, DeAsia Harmon, Mitchell’s widow, told CNN affiliate WTMJ on Monday.

“We couldn’t even go into the grocery store with my daughter without her being afraid of the security standing at the door,” Harmon said. “She said, ‘is all security bad or just the ones who murdered my dad.’”

The security guards involved in the incident have been suspended. Aimbridge Hospitality, which operates the downtown Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, is still completing its investigation, a Hyatt spokesperson told CNN on Monday.

“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,” the spokesperson said. “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.”

Milwaukee Police are not considering the incident as a criminal investigation because there isn’t any evidence of “blunt force,” according to Crump.

“It is unacceptable that this case is not being considered a criminal investigation despite the fatal outcome, which the medical examiner considers a homicide,” Crump said.

The case is pending further investigation and there’s no timeline for a charging decision at the moment, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office told CNN on Tuesday.

‘To know him is to love him’

Mitchell’s mother, Brenda Giles, said her eldest son was a jolly, outgoing, brother, uncle and father who loved his family, she told WTMJ.

“Everybody that knows him, to know him is to love him, they know,” his sister, Nayisha Mitchell told the station. “They knew he was a good person.”

When Mitchell’s father passed away in 2016, Mitchell fell into depression, his family told WTMJ. Giles believes her son was suffering from a mental health episode at the time of the incident, according to Crump.

Shawn Moore, a witness who recorded parts of the interaction, told WTMJ he wishes he had done more.

“What I ended up capturing was another Black man in Milwaukee dealing with mental issues losing his life over nothing,” he said.

Family and friends held a vigil for Mitchell over the weekend outside the downtown Hyatt Regency echoing similar sentiments of calls for justice.

CNN’s Sara Smart and Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.

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