County Board committee passes resolution on in-custody deaths

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee County Board Committee on Judiciary, Safety and General Services took a resolution Thursday, October 18th regarding the way Milwaukee County's Medical Examiner handles deaths occurring in police custody.

This, after outrage over the death of 22-year-old Derek Williams.

Williams died while in police custody in July 2011. 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. MPD and the Milwaukee County District Attorney concluded the officers involved did not break any rules. However, the two did call for an inquest into the Williams' case, and a special prosecutor was appointed for such inquest. Wednesday's announced federal investigation will be separate from the inquest.

Once the dashcam video was released to the public, and the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office amended Williams' cause of death from Sickle cell trait (natural causes) to homicide (death at the hands of another) -- some community leaders and residents called for the firing of Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn and a federal investigation. That request has been granted.

The Milwaukee County Board committee Thursday passed a resolution creating a new policy for all police-involved deaths, including who has the final say on the cause of death.

"To put new policy enhancements in place so that our Chief Medical Examiner has that final say on those high-profile cases that are police-involved deaths," Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen said.

The resolution must now be approved by the full Milwaukee County Board.