Protesters march after charges not sought in Derek Williams’ case

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A group of protesters upset over special prosecutor John Franke's decision not to seek charges against the Milwaukee officers in the Derek Williams' case, ignored police orders and poured onto the streets Friday, March 29th to march.

Williams died in the back of a Milwaukee police squad car in July of 2011. Last month, 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, March 28th special prosecutor John Franke told them he is not going along with the jury’s recommendation. 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.

In a 33-page report released Friday, March 29th, special prosecutor Franke lays out his reasoning for not seeking criminal charges against three Milwaukee police officers for Williams' death.

In the report, special prosecutor John Franke says "insufficient evidence" relating to the cause of Williams' death is the reason three officers will not face charges. According to the report, the cause of Williams' death was never discovered despite a thorough inquiry.

"There was significant disagreement among the four experts who testified at the
inquest as to whether a sickle cell crisis was the probable cause of death or whether that
possibility was less than probable, although no alternative cause of death was ever
identified."

In the report, special prosecutor Franke states that due to the uncertainty in the cause of death it is unknown whether the failure of the officers to correctly assess and properly address Williams' respiratory distress would have made a medical difference.

"If Williams’ flight from the police had been successful, would the crisis have
occurred in the same fashion and would Williams have been able to obtain medical
intervention on his own? We simply do not know."

Special prosecutor Franke states that due to insufficient evidence it is unknown whether the confinement in custody or the tardy request for medical help was a substantial factor in the death of Williams.

"As the expert testimony developed prior to and during the inquest, it became clear
that the evidence relating to the cause of death and whether earlier medical intervention
might have made a difference was completely insufficient to establish the necessary causal connection even to the level of probable cause. For that reason, I requested that homicide charges not be submitted to the jury."

Special prosecutor Franke concludes the report with the following statement: "Because I conclude that the available evidence does not establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and because a reasonable jury could not find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, I must decline to issue charges in this matter."