The 2011 death of 22-year-old Derek Williams in the back of a Milwaukee police car while gasping for air left much of the public enraged and many questions unanswered.
The most pressing: Were the police officers who arrested him responsible for his death?
According to a six-person jury, the answer is – at least partially – yes. The jury in the inquest into Williams’ death concluded Thursday with a unanimous verdict that three police officers involved in his arrest intentionally failed to help him and should face misdemeanor charges. After seven days of testimony, the jury spent four hours yesterday and much of this morning coming to the decision that there was probable cause to believe a crime had been committed.
Special prosecutor John Franke will consider the jury’s recommendation and decide whether or not to charge the officers – Richard Ticcioni, Jeffrey Cline and Jason Bleichwehl – all of whom pleaded the Fifth during the inquest and refused to testify.
Williams, a robbery suspect with no criminal record, was arrested after running from the police for more than a block. A video shows him struggling to breathe and begging for help from the back of the squad car for nearly eight minutes.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.