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Family Of Milwaukee Man Who Died In Custody Files Lawsuit Against Police

Civil Rights Lawsuit Claims Use Of Excessive Force, Failure To Train, Control Officers

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

The family of an African-American man who died in the back of a Milwaukee police car five years ago has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and 11 police officers.

Derek Williams Jr., 22, died after Milwaukee officers initially thought he was faking his breathing problems after being arrested as a robbery suspect.

The civil rights lawsuit claims excessive force was used during the arrest, the Milwaukee Police Department failed to train officers in monitoring medical conditions and the department failed to control officers with a history of citizen abuse.

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Jonathan Safran, the Williams’ family attorney, said it’s unconscionable that no Milwaukee officers have been held responsible in the case.

“We are committed to obtaining some modicum of justice for Mr. Williams’ children and again shining a light on the conduct of the Milwaukee Police Department in this very significant case here in the city of Milwaukee.”

The mother of Williams’s three children, Sharday Rose, said her children have been through pain and suffering and are ready for justice.

“At least we can use the civil proceedings — the civil rights lawsuits — to attempt to bring to light what happened here,” Flint Taylor said, another attorney for the Williams family.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages. The Milwaukee city attorney and the Milwaukee Police Department declined comment on the case.