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Why Did They Kill Him?' Questions Linger After Mich. Police Shoot Homeless Man 46 Times


"...firing squad dressed in police uniforms."

Milton Hall, a 49-year-old homeless man, on July 1 was shot 46 times for failing to comply with police instructions. Police say Hall was brandishing some sort of knife and, after a brief standoff in a parking lot in Saginaw, Mich., the six officers had no choice but to open fire.

Right before the shooting, police say Hall called 911 after he had a fight with a convenience store clerk.

"My name is Milton Hall, I just called 911. My name is Milton, and I'm pi**ed off," you can hear Hall yell in a video obtained by CNN.

An officer tells him to put the knife down and Hall responds: "I ain't putting sh*t down."

Shortly after that, the six officers open fire.

Watch the CNN report [warning: graphic content]:

Saginaw police felt it was necessary to open fire "because apparently, at this point in time, he was threatening to assault police," says Saginaw County Prosecutor Michael Thomas.

And aside from perceiving an imminent threat, Saginaw Police Chief Gerald Cliff claims Hall was "known to be an assaultive person" with "a long history" of run-ins with law enforcement, "not only with police from our department but with the county."

But Hall’s relatives disagree with this.

"He was not violent," said Hall’s cousin Mike Washington, adding that the worst he had been jailed for was vagrancy.

Meanwhile, Hall’s mother is furious with Saginaw authorities and just wants to know why her son who, she says, was "mentally ill" was killed.

"It appeared to be a firing squad dressed in police uniforms," Jewel Hall told CNN. "There was another way. They did not have to kill him. He had not done anything. He was not violent. He was not a murderer. He was not a criminal."

"Everybody knew him. The police knew him well," she said. "So that's another question: they knew him, so why? Why did they kill him?"

A memorial set up in honor of Hall

Another obvious question many people have is “Was it necessary to shoot him 46 times?”

"I'm stunned that six human beings would stand in front of one human being and fire 46 shots," Jewel Hall said. "I just don't understand that. It's a lot of pain in that because it only takes one shot, so the question is why?"

Former Long Island police officer Lou Palumbo during an interview on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" said that the video is "a perceptive nightmare" because it might reflect a "lack of training" on the part of the officers.

"This wasn't a scenario where he was discharging a weapon in their direction," he said.

However, he was careful to note that the internal investigation may very well prove that the reaction by the officers was justified.

"One of the things the public has to understand, an individual wielding a knife at you at about 20 feet can be on top of you in a split second," he said. "The public doesn't know this because they don't do this for a living."

Michigan state police issued the following statement after CNN aired the above video: "Our focus is on conducting a complete and thorough investigation, rather than a hasty one."

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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