No Charges Pressed Against Police In Derek Williams Case


A prosecutor’s decision not to pursue charges against police officers in the Derek Williams case in Milwaukee has caused concern amongst Williams’ family and lawyers, as well as a street protest this afternoon.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has just released a statement, saying he respects John Franke’s decision.

Williams died in the back of a police car in 2011, after complaining to officers he could not breathe. Squad car video showed officers telling Williams to “quit faking it.” A month ago, a Milwaukee inquest jury recommended misdemeanor charges of failure to render aid against three officers. But special prosecutor John Franke emailed a report today saying he does not think convictions are possible.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Franke’s report disappoints Sharday Rose, the mother of Williams’s children: “I was very, very angry. I was wondering how he could come up with a decision like that.”

Rose’s attorney, Jonathan Saffran says he thinks convictions against the officers could be achieved based on the widely seen squad car video.

“I think people can draw their own conclusions by looking at the video – to determine whether or not they would think that a reasonable person, as a police officer, should think that Mr. Williams, complaining over and over politely in the back of that squad car for medical help and indicating that he couldn’t breathe, that that should have prompted officers to go ahead and request emergency medical attention right away.”

Saffran says U.S. Attorney James Santelle has told him that federal investigations into the case remain open, and Saffran will wait for more information before perhaps filing a civil lawsuit against the officers. About 50 critics of Franke’s decision gathered to hold a protest march.

County supervisor David Bowen addresses the crowd: “And what we’re asking for is justice; we’re not asking for a favor.”

And then, without a permit, the crowd starting marching down a main street to hold a rally outside Milwaukee police headquarters.