Police Release Timeline Explaining Handling of Squad Car Video

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by Michele McCormack

MILWAUKEE --- Police released the following timeline and explanation of the squad car video that depicts the death of 22-year-old Derek Williams.

The robbery suspect died in the back of a police squad in July of 2011, after a foot chase.

The Medical Examiner have recently changed the manner of death from natural to homicide.

Police Chief Ed Flynn has since asked officers to call for medical assistance sooner.

The timeline released by the Milwaukee Police Department is as follows:

July 7, 2011: Squad video is downloaded and copies are produced for retention (one copy to Open Records; one copy inventoried in Property Control; two copies to District Attorneys Office).

September 16, 2011: Video is distributed to District Attorney Chief Investigator and MPD Internal Affairs as part of the complete investigative file.

September 27, 2011: Video is shown to Mr. Williams' family and their representative(s) during a meeting at the District Attorney's Office.

May 9, 2012: Open Records receives a request from Gina Barton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for reports and squad car video related to the arrest of Derek Williams on July 6, 2011.

June 26, 2012: Open Records responds to Ms. Barton's request, providing 77 pages of documents pursuant to state public records law and denying the release of the requested squad video on the statutorily-permitted grounds of protecting Mr. Williams' family from being re-victimized by the public disclosure of the video.

June 29, 2012: An attorney for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contacts the City Attorney's Office requesting preservation of the video while the newspaper considers whether to sue the Department for its disclosure. During this conversation, the newspaper's attorney states that Mr. Williams' family wanted the video made public. The City Attorney's Office informs the newspaper's attorney that it would be necessary to obtain a waiver from Mr. Williams' family prior to release of the video. The City Attorney's Office is informed that Attorney Robin Shellow represented the Estate of Derek Williams. The City Attorney's Office drafts a waiver for the Estate of Derek Williams to authorize the release of the video and provides the waiver to Attorney Shellow.

August 28, 2012: The City Attorney's Office receives a brief note from the mother of Mr. Williams requesting that a copy of the squad video be released to Attorney Shellow and Gina Barton.

August 28, 2012: The City Attorney's Office sends a letter to Attorney Shellow to inform her that the received document was insufficient and includes another copy of the drafted waiver.

September 14, 2012: The City Attorney's Office receives a signed copy of the waiver from the mother of the children of Mr. Williams, provided by Attorney Jonathan Safran. The City Attorney's Office also receives a signed copy of the waiver from the mother of Mr. Williams, provided by Attorney Shellow.

September 17, 2012: The City Attorney's Office faxes the waivers to Open Records. Open Records releases the video to Gina Barton and, as a professional courtesy, notifies both Attorney Shellow and Attorney Safran that a copy is available for them as well. Ms. Barton and Attorney Shellow's office picked up their copies of the video at the Open Records counter. Attorney Safran's copy of the video was mailed to his office.

September 18, 2012: Medical Examiner's Office requests and receives a copy of the squad video.

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