Wisconsins Afternoon News

Milwaukee Assistant Police Chief on shooting death of three-year-old: 'We're much better than this'

A young girl's life taken, allegedly by a man with a gun in a random shooting.

Such tragedy strikes the family hard beyond measure, but the grief spills over to the community. Including with the second in command at the Milwaukee Police Department.

"This is not our community. We're much better than this," Milwaukee Assistant Police Chief Raymond Banks told WTMJ's John Mercure days after the death of Brooklyn Harris, a death allegedly caused by the gun of Antonio Bratcher. Banks became emotional Saturday when talking to reporters about Harris' death.

"I really wasn't planning on saying much of anything, but the more I drove and the more I heard about how this incident came about, the angrier I got," added Banks.

"So as I got down there and I just started looking around, and I started thinking about the young lady, I just couldn't contain myself. The emotions and everything just started to well up. I tried my best to keep it together as I was talking to the media, but I just couldn't do it."

So many people are asking "why" in such a tragic situation as this.

To Banks, the question may be simple, but the answers are complicated and multilayered.

"There are so many factors that come into play in scenarios like this as it relates to the protection of our children. Just from the very simple breakdown of the families, the socioeconomic challenges that are happening," said Banks.

"If we were able to, even as families, as friends and even living in these various neighborhoods, know who these people are that are carrying these guns illegally and behaving in such reckless fashions, to work with us and help us identify these people at the time they're doing this, or even letting us know that people that have guns that shouldn't have guns, to give us an opportunity to get in front of this before it happens."

In Banks' mind, the reason people don't reach out to police about cases such as these doesn't have to do with a culture of "snitching," but an atmosphere of fear in the neighborhood due to those who own the guns.

"I think it's because they're really afraid of retaliation. That's a fear that's very real. That's something that we as a community and a police department have to try to work with people to get past that fear. I can tell you there are certain communities where people shoot off guns on a regular basis, but no one ever calls the police," Banks explained.

"In those type of scenarios, whatever we (the police) need to do to try to make people feel comfortable enough to report those type of things, that's going to be our challenge, our job. We try to get out to the community groups to tell them the importance of reporting this type of behavior. The young man that's involved in the latest shooting of the three-year-old, I'm sure that if he's randomly shooting in the air like that, he's probably behaved like that before someplace, and had someone call to let us know maybe we could have gotten there and prevented that because we could have arrested him or gotten a gun away from him."


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