The employees allegedly involved in the death of a Black man who was pinned to the ground outside a downtown Milwaukee hotel have been fired, the hotel’s operator announced late Wednesday night.

Aimbridge Hospitality said, “We are saddened and shocked by what happened to D’vontaye Mitchell at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones.

“The conduct we saw from several associates on June 30 violated our policies and procedures and does not reflect our values as an organization or the behaviors we expect from our associates. Following review of their actions, their employment has been terminated. We will continue our independent investigation and do everything we can to support law enforcement with their investigation into this tragic incident.”

Hyatt said in an earlier statement that it “joins the family of D’Vontaye Mitchell in their calls for transparency, accountability and justice for this senseless tragedy. We believe that the employees of Aimbridge Hospitality who were involved should be terminated and that criminal charges should be filed.”

The family is also calling for charges to be brought.

Mitchell, 43, died at the Hyatt Regency after four security guards restrained him, holding him down on his stomach, media outlets have reported. Police have said Mitchell entered the hotel, caused a disturbance and fought with hotel employees as they were escorting him out. The family disputes that account.

The medical examiner’s office has said the preliminary cause of death was homicide, but the cause remains under investigation. No one has been criminally charged so far.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office said Wednesday that it and police investigators were awaiting full autopsy results and that the case was being reviewed as a homicide.

This undated photo of D’Vontaye Mitchell was provided to The Associated Press by his cousin, Samantha Mitchell.

Samantha Mitchell / AP


Mitchell’s family livid, shaken

Surveillance and body camera video viewed by Mitchell’s family and their lawyers Wednesday at the district attorney’s office showed an unarmed man fleeing for his life while being punched and kicked, they said during an afternoon news conference.

“What I saw today was disgusting. It makes me sick to my stomach,” Mitchell’s widow, DeAsia Harmon said. “He ran for his life. He was trying to leave. He said ‘I’ll go,’ and they didn’t let him go.”

Harmon said the video showed a bleeding Mitchell being dragged outside the hotel. “They didn’t stop. They could have let him go, but they didn’t,” she said.

Noted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said the family’s legal team also has a signed affidavit from a hotel employee who said a security guard was striking Mitchell with a baton and that Mitchell posed no threat when he was on the ground. The worker said a security guard ordered him and a bellman to help hold Mitchell down, Crump continued.

Another lawyer, William Sulton, said the hotel video showed an on-duty hotel security guard take a photo of Mitchell’s lifeless body as the guard was being questioned by police. “Absolutely disgusting,” Sulton said.

Mitchell’s sister, Nayisha Mitchell, told CBS Milwaukee affiliate WDJT-TV after watching the video, “Actually seeing it up close and personal, I’m telling you it’s much, much, much, much worse.”

DeAsia Harmon told the station “to see the people involved, to see their faces, to see that they had no remorse” was especially hard.

Sulton told WDJT the original narrative from authorities — that security guards restrained Mitchell because he went into a women’s bathroom — is wrong. “An off-duty security officer attacked D’Vontaye. D’Vontaye ran from that individual,” he said. 

Sulton added that Mitchell went into the women’s bathroom to get away from the attacker. Then Hyatt employees  — including a bellman and a front desk worker — dragged him out.

Sulton said they “shoved his head into the ground so hard that he’s bleeding. Forehead, nose, and mouth.”

Sulton asserted to WDJT that Mitchell did nothing to instigate the incident. “There was no criminal conduct by D’Vontaye Mitchell,” he said.

It’s unclear why Mitchell was at the hotel or what happened before the guards pinned him down. The Milwaukee County medical examiner’s initial report said he was homeless, but a cousin told The Associated Press on Wednesday that was incorrect.

Crump said video recorded by a bystander and circulating on social media also shows excessive force was used by security guards to subdue Mitchell.

“In the video you see them with their knees on his back and neck,” Crump said, and the security guard appears to hit Mitchell in the head with an object. “You see them pull his shirt over his head, stifling not only his sound but, we believe, his breath.”

Shawn Moore told CBS News Tuesday that he witnessed part of the incident while walking to a nearby Walgreens to pick up some things for his son. He said he walked over to the hotel when he heard screaming.

The four guards didn’t get off Mitchell until police officers got to the hotel, Moore said, recalling that “one was holding his ankles, and you had the other three above the waist applying pressure holding him down.” 

Mitchell was born and raised in Milwaukee, according to his first cousin Samantha Mitchell, 37, and any mental illness he may have had was undiagnosed.

“D’Vontaye loved to cook,” she said. “He was overprotective of his family, especially his younger cousins. He was a jokester. He really clung to a lot of our male cousins growing up, enjoying life together.”

GOP convention, George Floyd, racial justice

She said the family changed his funeral from Saturday to Thursday so its significance would not be overshadowed by the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, which starts next week.

“We need to keep this in the light and not swept under the rug,” Mitchell said. “Regardless of the convention going on, this is still a matter that needs attention from everyone, no matter what party you are with. I want to see people speak about it while they’re here for the convention. That will say a lot.”

Mitchell’s death has become the most recent flashpoint in how the nation confronts race and what some see as the systemic brutality of Black people by members of law enforcement or others in authority, four years after the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

“Just because they have a big event coming up in Milwaukee, the killing of D’Vontaye Mitchell is just as important as anything else that’s going to happen in Milwaukee this month,” Crump told reporters Monday.

Crump also represented the family of Floyd, whose death spurred worldwide protests against racial violence and police brutality.

“Everybody in America, after George Floyd, should have trained their employees, especially security personnel, to not put knees on peoples’ backs and peoples’ necks,” Crump added.