Back in July 2011, Derek Williams died in Milwaukee Police Department ("MPD") custody. After the release of a disturbing video which shows Mr. Williams in the back of an MPD squad car struggling to breathe and begging police officers for help, and after the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner changed his ruling regarding Mr. Williams' death from "natural causes" to "homicide," elected officials and community leaders are demanding changes with respect to how MPD officers treat persons in custody. Two significant developments occurred on Thursday, October 18, 2012.
First, the Milwaukee County Board is considering an ordinance that would require special procedures whenever someone dies in police custody. The proposed ordinance would require: (1) a review by the Medical Examiner of all available reports regarding the death; (2) a peer review of the autopsy finding by the Medical Examiner; and (3) approval by the chief Medical Examiner prior to the final determination regarding cause of death. The Board's Judiciary Committee approved further study of the proposed ordinance. Read the complete report of the Board meeting in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.
Second, MPD Chief Ed Flynn appeared before the City of Milwaukee Fireand Police Commission ("FPC"), and told the Commissioners that the MPD officers involved in the death of Derek Williams responded inappropriately during the incident. Without any basis, Chief Flynn claimed that the officers failed to address a pre-existing medical condition. Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. civil rights attorney Jonathan Safran also appeared before the Commission, stating that there has been no conclusive determination that Mr. Williams had a pre-existing medical condition which was a cause of his death. In fact, there is evidence that the MPD officers may have used excessive force during the incident, which resulted in Mr. Williams' death. Attorney Safran asked whether there was a Use-of-Force Report filed after the incident, something that is required whenever an MPD officer uses force. It is believed that no Use-of-Force Report was ever prepared or filed. Chief Flynn also announced new training and protocols for whenever someone in police custody is in medical distress. Read the Journal Sentinel report regarding the FPC meeting here.
The civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. represent the three young children of Derek Williams. We will do our best to make sure that there is justice and accountability for Mr. Williams' death.
Posted in Civil Rights, Police Brutality, Wrongful Death