As previously reported on this website here, Derek Williams died in Milwaukee Police Department ("MPD") custody back in July 2011. Initially, Milwaukee County assistant medical examiner Christopher Poulus ruled that Mr. Williams died of "natural causes." In making his initial determination, Mr. Poulus did not review all the police reports from the incident or the disturbing video which shows Mr. Williams in the back of an MPD squad car struggling to breathe and begging MPD officers for help. Following 10 months of open records requests and negotiations with the City of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained a copy of the squad car video. After Mr. Poulus reviewed the video, along with all the police reports from the incident, he changed his ruling with respect to Mr. Williams' death to "homicide." Now, the Journal Sentinel is reporting that Mr. Poulus has resigned from the medical examiner's office. According to Brendan Conway, the spokesperson for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Mr. Poulus' resignation was effective October 31, 2012. Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen expressed concern that neither the County Executive nor chief medical examiner Brian Peterson announced Mr. Poulus' resignation when it occurred.
The civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. represent the three young children of Derek Williams. Attorney Jonathan S. Safran is also concerned that it took two weeks to announce Mr. Poulus' resignation, telling the Journal Sentinel, "As a crucial department within county government, it would be important for the public to know that the assistant medical examiner in this case had stepped down." We will continue to monitor to investigation in Mr. Williams' death. Please check this website for future updates.