"They haven't forgotten:" Federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Derek Williams' estate, children

MILWAUKEE -- Exactly five years after his death in police custody, the family of Derek Williams filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, July 6th. It claims nearly a dozen different officers are responsible for Williams' death.

Sharday Rose

"They haven't forgotten. There's people that come to me all the time asking what's going on with the case," said Sharday Rose, the mother of Williams' children.

The lawsuit is on behalf of Sharday Rose and the three children she and Williams had together.

Williams, 22, was arrested on July 6, 2011 for an attempted robbery. Squad car video recorded Williams' final moments. He struggled to breathe while handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car -- and could be seen in the video pleading for medical help.

Derek Williams in back of police squad

In February 2013, a special inquest jury recommended misdemeanor charges for three of the officers involved in this case for failing to render aid. The next month, the special prosecutor announced he would not file any charges.

In June 2013, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission declined to discipline any of the officers.

Milwaukee police officials have declined to comment on this lawsuit since it is pending litigation. The office of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett referred FOX6 News to the city attorney's office which declined to comment -- also because it is pending litigation.

The Williams family attorney says a lack of accountability leaves a lawsuit as the only alternative -- one that could end up costing city taxpayers.

"The city could choose to either get insurance if this is the practice they're going to continue to have -- or they could choose to make the changes so we don't have to keep coming here to have these press conferences," said Jonathan Safran, Williams family attorney.

Williams' death is also one of the incidents that led to a new Wisconsin law passed in 2014. It states an outside agency must come in to investigate police-involved deaths.

CLICK HERE to review Derek Williams stories from the past