Medical Examiner Changes Ruling On Death Of Man In Police Custody To Homicide

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Back in July 2011, Derek Williams died in the back seat of a Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) squad car. Initially, the Milwaukee County medical examiner ruled that Mr. Williams died of natural causes, specifically, sickle cell crisis. Following an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that resulted in newly released records, including the squad car video, the medical examiner has changed the ruling to homicide. The Milwaukee County District Attorney is reopening its investigation into Mr. Williams’ death, to determine if criminal charges should be issued against the MPD officers involved.

The Milwaukee personal injury attorneys of Samster, Konkel & Safran represent Mr. Williams’ long-term girlfriend, and we are assisting her, on behalf of their three children, in obtaining justice and accountability for the acts of the police officers involved in the incident leading to Mr. Williams’ death. We express our gratitude to the great work of the Journal Sentinel, including reporter Gina Barton, for further investigating the facts of this incident and encouraging the medical examiner to re-examine his initial determination as to the cause of Mr. Williams’ death. Find the Journal Sentinel article regarding the investigation. The report includes a link to the squad car video, which shows Mr. Williams gasping for air and pleading for help during the last minutes of his life. Due to the disturbing nature of the video, we recommend that children under 18 not watch it.

A memorial fund is being established to care for Mr. Williams’ three children, who are ages 4, 3 and 1. Donations can be dropped off at the offices of Samster, Konkel & Safran, 1110 North Old World Third Street, Suite 405, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53203. Checks can be made payable to the Derek M. Williams, Jr. Children’s Memorial Fund. Receipts will be given for any cash or check payments.

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