Police Car as Coffin: Demands to Fire Milwaukee Police Chief after Death of Derrick Williams. For 15 Minutes Officers Ignored Handcuffed Black Man Begging for Help - on video
"If you're going to protect and serve us as people, as human beings, no one should die like my nephew died," said Maeleen Jordan, Derrick Willams' aunt. Chief said Police Did Nothing Wrong after Watching Complete graphic video (sound after a few minutes) [HERE] From [HERE] and [HERE] The reaction to the released video of Derrick Willams, a Black man who died in the back of a police squad car and the racist handling of the Darius Simmons case (see story below) is leading the Black community to call for the removal of Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn.
There was a closed-door meeting Thursday night between Chief Flynn and the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission. Mayor Barrett acknowledged a high level of unrest in the community over the handling of the Williams and Simmons cases. “He’s got a four-year term. Every indication he’s going to be staying,” said Mayor Barrett. “He wants to address these problems. Everyone shares the same goal and that is to make sure we have a safe city, a city where police respect citizens, and citizens respect police and he is clearly indicated he is willing to work to make sure that happens.”
Last month the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office revised its ruling on the death of Derek Williams, who died in Milwaukee police custody in July 2011, from natural to homicide. The decision came after the Journal Sentinel alerted an assistant medical examiner to newly released records - including a video of a suffocating Williams pleading for help from the back of a squad car - and also made him aware of a national expert who said Williams, 22, did not die naturally of sickle cell crisis. The police reports include key details about Williams' arrest that the medical examiner didn't know originally.
The graphic video shows a handcuffed Williams, his eyes rolled back, gasping for breath and begging for help in the back seat of a Milwaukee police car as officers ignore his pleas. Williams, his hands cuffed behind him, repeatedly begged and told officers he couldn't breathe for at least 15 minutes between the time of his arrest and his death. Officers ignored him and believed him to be acting. Officers told internal investigators they did not hear him ask for help. In the video Williams is naked - as police had conducted a strip search before placing him in their cruiser.
Along with Chisholm, Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission Executive Director Michael Tobin and internal affairs Lt. Alfonso Morales viewed the video months ago and determined officers had done nothing wrong, despite department rules requiring police to call for help immediately "if medical treatment becomes necessary."
Williams, who had gotten out of jail earlier in the day after being arrested on municipal warrants for loitering, vandalism and assault, fled from police after attempting to rob a couple near the intersection of N. Holton and E. Center streets, according to the reports. He was sweating profusely when police found him hiding behind an overturned card table. Officer Richard M. Ticcioni pulled him out. Ticcioni said he believed rookie Officer Patrick Coe helped him. Ticcioni "ended up on top of Williams with the suspect facing down," according to the report of Milwaukee police Detective Luke O'Day, who interviewed Ticcioni.
Williams, his hands cuffed behind him, repeatedly begged to officers that he couldn't breathe for at least 15 minutes between the time of his arrest and his death, according to records. He first made the complaint as he lay facedown, Ticcioni pressing a knee across his back, O'Day's report says.
"As soon as he released pressure, Williams began squirming, as if trying to break free, and reached around his right side to his right waistband (while still in handcuffs)," according to the report. Ticcioni worried that Williams was trying to grab a gun and "reapplied pressure with his right knee to prevent any further movement from the suspect," the report says.
Officers then searched Williams. No gun was found.
They got him to his feet, and "Williams immediately went limp," the report says. Ticcioni "laid him on the ground on his back and observed that he was breathing hard."
"He felt Williams was playing games and directed him to stop messing around," the report says.
A few minutes later, as officers Ticcioni and Coe were helping Williams walk toward the car, Coe left Williams' side to move a "for sale" sign that was blocking the sidewalk. When he did, Williams "pulled forward and fell face forward into the grass," the report says.
Ticcioni believed Williams was dragging his feet to make it difficult for the officers to get him to the waiting squad car, the report says.
Once locked in the back seat, Williams continued to say he could not breathe and asked officers to call him an ambulance, according to the squad video and a summary of the internal investigation. Officers Jeffrey Cline and Jason Bleichwehl, who can be heard talking on the recording, told internal investigators they did not hear Williams ask for an ambulance, the summary says. [MORE]
"We just have to start over, and we have to clear out any officer involved in the illegal strip searches should be gone, involved with the Derek Williams situation should be fired, and we should ask the chief to step down because he lost the trust," resident Tory Lowe said.
Commissioners listened as residents voiced concerns about the mistreatment of a young homicide victim's mother, illegal strip searches and Williams' death.
Flynn responded to the complaints and said the scrutiny being put on the department is unfair. Flynn said he and the his officers are committed to assisting people in every community and all walks of life.
"In the context of that work, critical incidents occur. Sometimes they aren't handled optimally, but that is no reason to malign the many hundreds of people out there doing solid work, protecting many of the same people here expressing their displeasure," Flynn said.
The demand for answers was echoed by some Wednesday night as Flynn met with a coalition of religious leaders.
"I think he was surprised that some of the people there used it as an opportunity to call for his resignation," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
Barrett is not calling for Flynn's resignation, but did say he and the chief realize how important it is that the Police Department have credibility "in all parts of the community."
"There are people who are very upset. That's why it's important for the police chief to be out there, important for him and others in the department to rebuild the trust, or maybe for the first time establish the trust with people in the community. I think there are a lot of people who feel that progress has been made, but this is clearly a set-back for the department," Barrett said.
"I understand the residents' concerns. I understand their frustration," Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines said.
Hines said he understands the concerns of residents and the call by some for Flynn's resignation, but Hines isn't among them, saying it's important to act deliberately and responsibly, especially since there's an ongoing investigation.
"You're innocent until proven (guilty), and so it's important for us to gather all the data, look at all the information, and then respond accordingly," Hines said.
As of Thursday afternoon, no one has filed a complaint with the Fire and Police Commission over the Williams case.