MILWAUKEE -- Three years ago, Brandon Johnson died at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. On Tuesday, October 6th, a rally was held to mark that anniversary. His death shone a spotlight on the complex and spawned a John Doe investigation into his death.
No criminal charges were issued as a result of the John Doe investigation -- and supporters of the Johnson family believe justice was denied.
The Coalition for Justice, Mothers for Justice United and family members and friends of Johnson rallied at the place where he died -- the Mental Health Complex.
Johnson died in October 2012 after being admitted to the facility. Mental health staff did not believe Johnson's complaints about being paralyzed. When he died within three days, it was discovered Johnson had a broken neck. He was never taken in for an examination, and he died as a result of a pulmonary embolism, traced back to a broken neck.
"I'm here to celebrate my son's life. And I'm here with my family because I want everyone to know what they did to my son. I want awareness and I want this place closed," said Alicia Johnson, Brandon's mother. "I'm going to seek justice until I get accountability."
The decision in the John Doe investigation states that while there should have been more effort to check out Johnson's claim of paralysis, the actions of those who heard his claims didn't rise to the point of intent to harm Johnson -- apparently the gold standard for prosecution at the time.
"And that`s quite a bit different from the way we look at it from the federal civil rights violation," Jonathan Safran, attorney for Johnson's family said.
Hector Colon, the Milwaukee County Health and Human Services director says restructuring the mental health system in Milwaukee County began before Johnson's death, and continues now.
"Moving toward a community-based system of care. Moving toward a care that`s more person-centered, more recovery-oriented, more trauma-informed and more culturally-intelligent," Colon said.
The group marched from the Mental Health Complex to Froedtert Hospital and back.
Safran says they plan to file a federal lawsuit in Johnson's death.