Back in 2011, Derek Williams died in Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) custody. Initially, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner ruled that Mr. Williams died of natural causes. After video was released showing Mr. Williams in the back seat of an MPD squad car struggling to breathe and begging MPD officers for help, the Medical Examiner reopened the investigation, reviewed all the reports from the incident, and changed his ruling as to Mr. Williams’ death to homicide.
On Thursday, December 12, 2013, the Wisconsin State Assembly Criminal Justice Committee heard testimony on a proposed law that would require outside agencies to investigate all police officer involved deaths. Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. Attorney Jonathan S. Safran, who represents the three young children of Derek Williams along with their mother, testified before the committee regarding the death of Mr. Williams, and the failure of the MPD to properly investigate the incident. Attorney Safran told the committee that independent investigations of police officer involved deaths “will provide for needed transparency, may result in future training, policy and rule changes, and will hopefully result in citizens regaining their trust of law enforcement officers and agencies.”