Revised Autopsy Calls Derek Williams' Death Homicide

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by WDJT Editor

MILWAUKEE --- The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office has now released the autopsy report of a Milwaukee man who died in police custody.

It's a case that's under review after the M.E.'s Office reversed an earlier decision. Derek Williams, 22, autopsy report originally lists the cause of death as a Sickle cell crisis. It has now been revised to list the manner of death as a homicide.

Medical Examiner Brian Peterson says he is not suggesting police murdered him.

"Did they kill him? No. What I believe is Williams died of natural causes, namely a sickle crisis, precipitated by interaction with the police. It's a fine distinction."

The Assistant Medical Examiner Christopher Poulos ruled the July, 2011 death a result of natural causes.

Dr. Peterson says he doesn't blame Poulos for coming to a different conclusion.

"It's like going to a hospital and being seen by different doctors and one doctor may say this and one doctor may say that, our office is the same way," says Dr. Peterson. He has nearly two decades more experience than Dr. Poulos, according to Peterson.

The Medical Examiner also says he doubts a quicker medical response to Williams would have saved his life.

"Given why Mr. Williams died and what was going on in his system, I am not sure that the arrival of oxygen, the kinds of things they can do, would have made any difference at all."

Tomorrow, four Milwaukee Aldermen, including Council President Willie Hines, plan to meet with Dr. Peterson. They want to better understand the new ruling and discuss possible policy changes. Dr. Peterson says in the future, high profile cases like Williams' case will get a closer review.

"We do have a difficult case review conference were all the doctors review cases, this kind of case will then automatically go to the conference going forward."

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