City leaders say questions remain following Williams' inquest announcement

MILWAUKEE -- Two big questions remain regarding the Derek Williams case. Williams died while in police custody in July of 2011. On Monday, Milwaukee's District Attorney John Chisholm and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn announced an inquest into Williams' death, after an amended Medical Examiner's report changed Williams' cause of death from Sickle cell trait to homicide (death at the hands of another). Now, city leaders want to know why it took so long to declare Williams' death a homicide, and who is going to lead this investigation.

Four members of Milwaukee's Common Council held a news conference Tuesday, after their meeting with Police Chief Ed Flynn and D.A. Chisholm.

Alderwoman Milele Coggs said Tuesday she is aggressively seeking a change in the way police communicate with the public and the Common Council.

"It`s not just this Derek Williams case. It is the continuous fight that we as a Council push for -- increased transparency and communication," Coggs.

Coggs, along with Council President Willie Hines, Alderman Ashanti Hamilton and Alderman Willie Wade met with Chief Flynn and D.A. Chisholm to address problems that surfaced following Williams' death.

"I thought it was very productive. Obviously, some of the gestures that he made in the meeting allowed me and, I would say, the members of the body to feel hopeful and to feel optimistic," Hines said.

Along with working on communication issues, the group discussed the change in Williams' cause of death by the Medical Examiner. The Medical Examiner was not present for the meeting.

"The question to the Examiner has to be why and what and a variety of other information. I think the Examiner needs to be responsive to it," Hines said.

"What information did he have prior to making his initial report?  I think that`s important just to understand his line of thinking and making that switch," Hamilton said.

The city leaders also said they want more information on the special prosecutor D.A. Chisholm will bring in for an inquest.

"He wanted to get someone who had some law experience and maybe some judge experience that`s no longer working in the field to come in so they could be absolutely independent," Wade said.

Even though the meeting was considered productive by Council members, they say they still have concerns about whether changes will be made to meet their expectations.

"If we have to do it without their cooperation, we`re prepared to do that as well," Hines said.

Another point discussed during Tuesday's press conference was the time frame for releasing dashcam video showing Williams in the back of the MPD squad car the night he died. City leaders say family members saw the video for the first time in September of 2011, and in late August said it could be released to the public. However, because that request was not done properly, the video wasn't released until September 17th of this year.

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