MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A Milwaukee County jury has been chosen and is now hearing opening statements in the Derek Williams inquest. The panel is made up of seven women and two men. Two of the women are African-American.
22-year-old Williams died in the backseat of a squad car in July of 2011 after he was picked up by Milwaukee police officers following a foot chase — suspected of an attempted robbery. Williams’ death was captured on a squad camera as he struggled to breathe for nearly 15 minutes without help.
The last half hour of Williams' life was a topic for the opening statement by a special prosecutor. On July 6, 2011, the special prosecutor says Williams was in the process of robbing two college students in the neighborhood near Holton and Buffum.
Two squads showed up to the scene of the crime. An officer chased Williams to an alley. Williams ran barefoot, leaving his shirt on a fence. A police transmission was played to the inquest jury. Eight minutes later, Williams was arrested.
The Joker mask Williams was apparently wearing for the robbery was recovered. Williams was placed in the back of a squad. A portion of the tape of Williams struggling to breathe in the back of that squad was played for the jury.
The jury heard about autopsy reports showing sickle cell crisis. One said Williams' death was natural. More than a year later, that was changed to homicide.
The officers involved may testify during the inquest.
While the jury begins hearing from witnesses, this is a day the Williams family has been waiting for.
Jurors will not be allowed to ask questions during the inquest. They’ll have to look at the evidence, hear the testimony and reach a verdict — which will be recommendations to the judge.
Of the nine jurors selected, six of the inquest jurors will give their recommendations to the court. There other three jurors will remain alternates. The decision of the inquest jury must be unanimous.
CLICK HERE for additional coverage on the Derek Williams case via FOX6Now.com