As previously reported on this website here, Derek Williams died in Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) custody in July 2011. Initially, the MPD and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office determined that the MPD officers involved in the death of Mr. Williams did nothing wrong. After video was released showing Mr. Williams in the back of an MPD squad car struggling to breathe and begging MPD officers for help during the last minutes of his life, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office changed its ruling on Mr. Williams’ death from natural causes to homicide. The change in ruling prompted the appointment of special prosecutor John Franke to conduct an Inquest into the death of Mr. Williams.
The Inquest into the death of Derek Williams took place during the middle of February 2013. After several days of testimony, the Inquest jury issued an advisory verdict recommending that MPD Officers Richard Ticcioni, Jeffrey Cline and Jason Bleichwehl be charged with the misdemeanor crime of failing to render aid to Mr. Williams. Now, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that the special prosecutor has decided not to charge the officers. Read more about the Inquest into Mr. Williams’ death in the Journal Sentinel here.
The Milwaukee civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran represent the three young children of Derek Williams, along with their mother. We are disappointed to learn that the MPD officers involved in Mr. Williams’ death will apparently not face state criminal charges. The United States Attorney’s Office, however, is still considering charging the officers with federal crimes. In addition, the United States Department of Justice is currently deciding whether to sue the City of Milwaukee due a pattern of civil rights violations. We hope that the federal authorities take some action, so that there is justice and accountability for the death of Derek Williams, and so that future civil rights violations can be prevented.