The Milwaukee County District Attorney says he will ask an independent prosecutor to review the death of an African-American man who died last year while in police custody.
A newly released squad car video shows a handcuffed Derek Williams saying he could not breathe and pleading with Milwaukee police officers for help. An officer tells Williams to stop messing around. Williams died a few minutes later.
The Milwaukee district attorney first ruled that Williams died from natural causes, but the county medical examiner now says the case was a homicide, meaning another person was involved, not necessarily that there was criminal conduct.
District Attorney John Chisholm says he has asked an outside prosecutor will begin an inquest. "I do so based on the fact that we have already made a determination related to this case, and I want the review to be untainted by any of our previous findings."
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says in the meantime, his patrol officers have been given new instructions when monitoring those who are arrested. “We are telling our officers to err on the side of caution. If they have any reason now to believe that somebody is in medical distress, call for the ambulance. That has not routinely been the response.”
Attorney Jonathan Saffran represents the mother of Derek William’s three children. Safran says an outside probe is a good step, but a federal civil rights investigation is still needed. "It would appear to be quite clear from looking at the video that we and many others have seen that there was a callous disregard for Mr. Williams’s rights."
The Milwaukee district attorney says the U.S. attorney in Milwaukee and state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen will be monitoring the new investigation into the death of Derek Williams.