Wisconsin Officer Who Fatally Shot Michael Bell Jr. Running for Top Job in Police Department

The Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer who shot and killed Michael Bell Jr. in 2004 intends to run for sheriff.

Albert Gonzales declared his candidacy for the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office when he filed paperwork with the Kenosha County Clerk's Office on July 21.

"It is the truth, I am running for sheriff," Gonzales said, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. "The platform I'm going to have is what I'm running for. I'm just looking toward the future."

Gonzales will run as a Republican for the top seat in the police department in the November 2022 election, according to the candidacy paperwork.

The current sheriff, David Beth, does not plan to run for re-election, the Kenosha News reported.

Gonzales was one of four officers present at the scene involving 21-year-old Michael Bell Jr. On November 9, 2004, police followed Bell home after observing his driving, according to the police report. A physical confrontation ensued, and Bell was shot in the head at point-blank range after another police officer, Erich Strausbaugh, reportedly yelled Bell "has my gun."

The police department investigated the incident and determined within 48 hours that the proper amount of force was used, justifying the shooting and clearing the officers of any fault, NPR reported.

"The investigation showed that the actions of the officers were reasonable, appropriate and well within Kenosha Police Department policy, procedure, and training. I am fully confident that the officer's actions complied with the Kenosha Police Department's use of force guidelines," the department said at the time.

Kenosha Police
The Kenosha police officer who fatally shot Michael Bell Jr. in 2004 is now running for Sheriff of the Kenosha Police Department. Above, a Kenosha Police car drives past the Kenosha Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 31, 2020, following the shooting of Jacob Blake by police. Kerem Yucel / AFP/Getty Images

Bell's family sued the city of Kenosha for wrongful death following the shooting, and they were awarded a settlement of $1.75 million.

Michael Bell Sr., the victim's father, told Wisconsin Public Radio that the officer's decision to run for sheriff in Kenosha County did not seem like a rational move.

"I'm alarmed by it, I do think many of the good people of Kenosha County will see through it, and it's not going to be an issue," Bell Sr. said.

Bell's father continues to fight the decision made following the two-day investigation on his son's death. Bell Sr. also sued Gonzales in October 2020 for a book the officer published on the shooting, according to the court documents.

Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley declined to reopen the investigation in 2017, and Bell Sr. subsequently filed a grievance against the district attorney. It was denied due to an "insufficient basis to proceed." However, the grievance is being reviewed following a 107-page appeal filed on July 20.

Newsweek spoke to Bell Sr. about Gonzales's intentions to run for Sheriff. Bell Sr. did not believe that someone who "has not advanced beyond the rank of court officer" had the qualifications to be the county's sheriff.

"How does [his rank] entitle him to run an organization with several hundred officers, a county jail and an estimated $80 million dollar budget?" Bell Sr. questioned. "This filing for office points out that delusional [sic] people work for law enforcement."

Bell Sr. also shared that he believes the campaign will magnify the officer's involvement in the fatal shooting of his son. He brought up another incident that happened in Kenosha: the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake by police. Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down after police shot him several times in the back in August 2020, while three of his children were watching.

"It will help magnify the problems with the KPD, Kenosha's Police and Fire Commission and the DA's office that peaked with the Jacob Blake shooting last August," Bell Sr. said.

Updated 07/29/2021, 4:57 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with comments from Michael Bell Sr.