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Closed-door meeting held regarding fifth death at Mental Health Complex

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MILWAUKEE -- 25-year-old Brandon Johnson died at Milwaukee County's Mental Health Complex -- becoming the center's fifth death this year. Johnson's death was the subject of a closed-door meeting Wednesday, following the announcement of an investigation into Johnson's death by Milwaukee County's District Attorney John Chisholm, the Milwaukee Police Department and the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office. Meanwhile, FOX6 News searched open records to determine how nurses found Johnson's body.

An autopsy done on Johnson's body at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office indicates Johnson died of a broken neck that caused a blood clot to form in his leg that went into his lung, causing him to die of a pulmonary embolism.

"That's not a natural death -- a broken neck. I ordered a more intense and robust investigation to determine how this individual broke his neck," Sheriff Clarke said.

Johnson's family told FOX6 News they believe Johnson was denied medical help at the Complex. Johnson's family told FOX6 News Johnson had reported he lost feeling in his legs, but was denied medical help.

"He was neglected. He was crying out for help and for the nurse to say 'I didn't believe him -- that's just what they do around here' -- that's not following proper procedures," Johnson-Lewis said.

After speaking with Milwaukee County's Medical Examiner, Johnson's aunt says Johnson suffered injuries to his neck and back leading to blood clots in his legs. Those blood clots reportedly made their way to Johnson's lungs -- leading to his death.

"They killed my son. Brandon was saying 'Mom, my chest -- feel my chest Mom. Isn't it hard? Mom, I can't walk or feel my legs,'" Johnson's mother, Alesha Johnson said.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has promised reform  in the wake of Johnson's death.

"We will get to the bottom, we will understand and we will change our practices. If there are staff that are responsible in any way they will absolutely be held accountable.  If there's procedures that we can improve they will be and we've already done some things," Abele said.

FOX6 News obtained a search warrant documenting the moments before Johnson's death. It describes Johnson asking a nurse to pull up his blanket. However, when the nurse approaches Johnson, the nurse finds Johnson's head back, eyes wide open and unresponsive.

FOX6 News also obtained Medical Examiner's reports for the other four deaths. Three were ruled natural and the fourth is pending test results, but the report does not indicate foul play.

While Johnson's family says the Medical Examiner had determined blood clots to be the cause of Johnson's death, they had not determined the manner of his death. Johnson's family says the Medical Examiner's Office had not ruled out homicide.

Meanwhile, no information has been released following Wednesday's meeting of the Milwaukee County Health and Human Needs Committee.

Johnson was the oldest of five, and the first of his brothers to graduate college in 2009.

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