Williams inquest jury recommends charging officersAn inquest jury is recommending misdemeanor charges against three white Milwaukee police officers, in the case of a black man who died in the back of a squad car.
By: By Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
An inquest jury is recommending misdemeanor charges against three white Milwaukee police officers, in the case of a black man who died in the back of a squad car. The recommendation is historically unusual in Milwaukee.
Derek Williams died in July 2011, when police officers thought Williams was faking health problems after he was arrested. Squad car video of the death released last year made national news, and prompted a ninr-day inquest. The court sessions have ended with a jury recommending three officers be charged with Failure to Render Aid by Law Enforcement: a misdemeanor. Williams’s aunt, Maeleen Jordan, noted it’s been about 25 years since an inquest jury recommended charges against Milwaukee police officers.
“For 25 years of injustice in the city of Milwaukee, I feel great today,” Jordan said. “I feel like a winner! I feel like Martin Luther King today, I feel like Malcolm X today, I feel like Rosa Parks today.”
Attorney Jonathan Saffran represents Derek Williams's girlfriend, Sharday Rose. Safran says the difference in the Williams case may be the presence of the squad car video.
“Certainly the squad car video carries a lot of weight, and I will give credit to Mr. Franke,” she said. “I think he attempted to change the process as to how these types of inquest have been provided in the past.”
Safran says it isn’t clear if special prosecutor John Franke or Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm will follow through with actual charges against the three officers. Franke is declining comment. The US Justice Department is also keeping tabs on the Williams case and could issue federal charges.