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Home  >  Topics  >  Investigations

October 04, 2012
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Video shows in-custody death of Wis. man

A medical examiner changed his ruling from death by natural causes to a homicide

By PoliceOne Staff

MILWAUKEE — In the wake of new video showing the death of a man in Milwaukee police custody, some citizens have requested the ousting of the police chief. 

On Wednesday, more than 100 protesters marched to call for Police Chief Edward Flynn's ouster, The New York Daily News reported. Meanwhile, DA John Chisholm has appointed a special prosecutor to look into a new criminal case against the officers involved in the arrest of Derek Williams, 22.

Last week, a medical examiner who originally said Williams died of natural causes changed his ruling to a homicide after viewing the video  and speaking to experts who called out the officers' method of restraint.

Police arrested Williams in connection to a suspected robbery the same day he was freed from jail in July 2011.

When officers found him, he was placed in handcuffs while sweating profusely. According to a police report, Williams complained to officers of difficulty breathing for approximately 15 minutes, first while on the ground in handcuffs.

The video shows Williams struggle in the back of the squad car, then lose consciousness.

Officers checked his pulse and tried to track down a supervisor before performing CPR, according to the Associated Press.  Another officer called paramedics, who with police continued CPR until Williams was declared dead 45 minutes later.

Forensic pathologist Werner Spitz told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Williams probably underwent a sickle cell crisis, but that it occurred when the officer had Williams face down on the ground, applying pressure to his back.

"This officer didn't have the intention of killing him, but that doesn’t mean this kind of restraint should be performed," Spitz said.
Williams' family has called for a federal probe despite investigations prior to the release of the video that determined officers did nothing wrong.

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