Jurors recommend criminal charges against MPD officers in Derek Williams inquest

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by WDJT Staff

MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- The inquest into the death of a robbery suspect, Derek Williams, ends with a recommendation that MPD officers be criminally charged for their part in his death.

The verdict is only a recommendation of what should be done. The jury's decision will help Special Prosecutor John Franke decide if charges should be handed down. The jurors also believe Williams' sickle cell condition played a part in his death.

Derek Williams died in the back of a Milwaukee Police squad in the summer of 2011. For more than a week, a 6-person jury heard testimony and saw evidence from that day.

The officers involved are facing a possible misdemeanor charge of failure to render aid when Williams complained he couldn't breathe. Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello says, "They did everything they could, everything in their power to save that young man's life."

Public officials are reacting to the advisory verdict with the release of statements:

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn

"Chief Flynn appreciates the diligence and professionalismof Special Prosecutor Franke. The Milwaukee Department has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with this process."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

“As I said last fall, the squad car video of Derek William in the back seat was disturbing, very disturbing. When the medical examiner changed his opinion, I supported and called for an independent investigation as did Milwaukee Police Chief Flynn. Milwaukee Police Department operating procedures were changed so that officers must call for medical assistance when an individual is expressing health complications.

The decisions made today by the inquest jury are not final and the legal process will be continuing. As today’s findings are vetted and work their way through the legal process, I ask everyone to remain patient and respectful of the process.”

Milwaukee Alderman Willie Hines

"I was pleased to hear an advisory verdict rendered today in the case that stems from the death in police custody of Derek Williams. The jury determined that there was probable cause to believe a crime had been committed, and that criminal charges should be filed against three of the officers involved in Williams’s death."

Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs

"We have said all along, since the death in police custody of Derek Williams, that the only way to restore the public’s faith that justice will be done is with complete transparency and a thorough vetting of the facts in full view of the public.

Having personally observed several days’ worth of testimony in this week-long inquest, I can unequivocally say it has been a worthwhile endeavor. The public is much more aware of the series of events that led up to Derek Williams’s death, and they have seen firsthand as the wheels of justice begin to turn.
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