Derek Williams’ family disappointed Franke will not pursue charges
MILWAUKEE (WITI) – Derek Williams’ family has expressed disappointment after learning a special prosecutor will likely decide NOT to charge three Milwaukee police officers for Williams’ death. Williams died in the back of a Milwaukee police squad car in July of 2011. An inquest jury last month recommended charges, but a special prosecutor has reportedly decided not to criminally charge these officers.
An inquest jury recommended three Milwaukee police officers be charged with misdemeanor crimes of “failing to render aid.”
Williams’ family members say on Wednesday night, special prosecutor John Franke told them he is not going along with the jury’s recommendation.
A small crowd of those close to the Williams’ investigation gathered outside Franke’s Third Ward office on Thursday.
“I want Judge Franke to know I ain’t going nowhere. The family’s question is why would you have an inquest for eight days, wear and tear on the media, the family — we saw all these graphic pictures of my nephew during this inquest that traumatize family members — especially the mom, the momma’s children, myself. We haven’t slept or eaten anything since the inquest and why would you involve people who lost work as far as jurors to come in and say they seen negligence and they want to file charges,” Williams’ aunt, Maeleen Jordan said.
Williams was seen on squad car dashcam video asking for help and gasping for breath in the back of a Milwaukee squad car after he was arrested for robbery in July of 2011. He died a short time later.
The District Attorney decided not to bring charges, and despite the fact that an inquest jury advised otherwise, the special prosecutor that has the ultimate decision told the family no.
“I think it was the right decision based in the evidence,” Attorney Michael Hart said.
Hart represents one of the officers who testified at the trial and was originally under scrutiny in the case.
“The fact that Mr. Williams died is tragic. That will never change. The result is tragic. The ultimate question for the prosecutor is whether he can prove a crime occured. These were hard-working diligent police officers who put their lives on the line every day fighting crime,” Hart said.
The president of the Milwaukee Police Association says that night, officers followed their training and performed admirably.
“While our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the Derek Williams family, we are extremely pleased with special prosecutor Franke’s decision. I hope this is the last time we discuss the situation,” Michael Crivello said.
“As a family, we continue to pray. God is going to offer justice,” Jordan said.
“When you get a jury to say there is liability and one man can stop the voice of the jury, what do you do? We will reach out for a federal investigation and we will reach out and stand beside all the families of police misconduct and let them know the people are going to continue to fight here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” community activist Tory Lowe said.
The special prosecutor has not issued his final report on the matter. He is expected to do that on Friday.
Meanwhile, Attorney Jonathan Safran believes the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into Williams’ death is nearly complete, meaning a decision on federal charges could be announced soon.