Jason Cleereman, a well-liked immigration attorney from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was shot and killed during an altercation with a cyclist, police said. The incident occurred on Tuesday evening at 7:48 p.m. on the 1700 block of North Horton Street. The Milwaukee Police Department posted about the homicide on Twitter and requested the public’s help for information about the incident:
— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) September 23, 2020
According to the police’s statement, “the suspect (a bicyclist) was involved in an altercation with the victim and fired shots subsequently striking the victim. The victim, a 54-year-old Milwaukee [resident], sustained fatal injuries.” The police stated that an investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is urged to contact police at 414-935-7360, Crime Stoppers at 414-224-TIPS or P3 Tips App.
In a longer statement posted to the Milwaukee Police’s website, police said the suspect’s identity was unknown and described him as “an African-American male, 30-35 years of age, 6′-6’02”, 170-190 pounds, thin build and black hair. He was riding a bicycle and was armed with a gun.”
Cleereman’s Family Said the Attorney, Who Was a Husband & Father of 2, Was the Passenger of the Vehicle During the Altercation
Cleereman’s sister, Vanessa Maldonado, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Cleereman was a devoted husband and father of two. She said, “My brother was a very kind, loving, helpful man. He’s well-known at the courthouse and a lot of people around the east side, where we were raised, near where the incident happened. He was just a good man. He wanted to make the neighborhoods nice. He talked to everybody. He was amazing.”
She provided the outlet with more information about the incident. Cleereman was the passenger of the vehicle and his wife, Evanjelina, was driving, Maldonado said, and they came across a cyclist who was riding dangerously or erratically on the Holton Street Bridge. Cleereman’s sister said that his wife was nervous about the cyclist and was concerned that she might hit him. She added, “At some point there were words exchanged between this guy and my brother.”
The cyclist then came up to their vehicle, she explained, and punched Cleereman. The attorney exited the vehicle, at which point the cyclist shot him in the head and escaped on a nearby bike path, according to Maldonado.
One of Cleereman’s friends, Pat Prabhu, spoke to WISN about the homicide:
It seems like it was just somebody who was in a rage, and Jason just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. And Jason was the kind of person who always wanted to right every wrong, and he felt something was wrong there. And he would get out and try and make it right. I guess that’s what he wanted to do, and you know, and this guy pulled out a gun and shot him in the head.
Cleereman Was a Community Leader & Longtime Attorney Who Focused on Immigration Law
According to his attorney information on Lawyer.com, Cleereman was a licensed lawyer for 22 years and obtained his degree from Hamline University School of Law in 1998. He specialized in immigration law and family and divorce law. A statement from three alders of the Milwaukee Common Council, José G. Pérez, Nik Kovac and JoCasta Zamarripa, said that Cleereman was passionate about helping families in the immigration process and a leader in his community.
“Anyone who met Jason instantly knew how much he cared about his family, friends and the community,” the statement read. “He worked tirelessly in service of others, left a positive impact on those around him, and will surely be missed.” The statement highlighted Cleereman’s involvement in the community: organizing the Walker Square Farmers Market, a leader in the Walker Square Neighborhood Association and serving as a leader for the Southside Organizing Center.
Judge Pedro Colón, a Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge serving in Milwaukee, paid tribute to Cleereman, who he described as “a great neighbor, lawyer and family man.” Colón added, “All those of us practiced law with him experienced his passionate advocy and dedication to his clients and the law. He was also a great contributor to Walker’s Square neighborhood and the south side as a whole.”
According to a Facebook post by Maldonado, services for Cleereman, which are open to the public, will be on Wednesday, September 30 at Peace of Mind Funeral Home.