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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 18, 2014

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No charges in death of Derek Williams angers some.
No charges in death of Derek Williams angers some.

No charges for officers in Williams case means same old same old

When a special prosecutor decided not to issue state charges against three Milwaukee police officers involved in the fatal arrest of Derek Williams, it wasn't a shock to some people in town.

No; that's not a good thing.

For decades in this city, there's been a list of civilians injured or killed in confrontations with Milwaukee police officers that qualified as an abuse of the officers' powers. It included names like Daniel Bell, Ernest Bell and Justin Fields who died after violent encounters with police along with names like Frank Jude Jr. who was brutally beaten by off-duty officers at a party.

When an inquest jury looking into Williams' death decided for the first time in 25 years there was enough evidence to issue charges against Milwaukee cops involved in a fatal shooting or in-custody death, some people were encouraged.

Others predicted to me that despite the inquest jury recommendation, they felt no charges would come out of it. After all, they said this is Milwaukee and Williams was a young black man suspected of a crime.

So his life didn't matter.

I was sorry John Franke decided not to charge the three officers involved even after saying he believed they were careless, used poor judgment and delayed getting Williams the medical help he needed.

According to Franke, there was probable cause to believe the officers committed an offense but not enough evidence for conviction. 

Most of all, I'm sad for the city and the enduring stain that hangs over these types of incidents involving some cops and members of the community they are supposed to protect.

Reports say the officers will be returned to active duty status soon. With no charges issued in his death, it's almost like Williams' life never really counted.

And that's hard to accept. 

Talkbacks

Skanless1 | April 6, 2013 at 11:02 p.m. (report)

I guess...I understand both sides of the parties involved...you have a person who has history of breaking the law and officers who may hear people trying to get out of being arrested all the time...the officers just made a bad decision not to take his injuries seriously this one time.....I am sure there are a lot of what ifs that could have taken place in this story. The bottom line is that just because people have police in their title dont mean they are killers...

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Otto | April 5, 2013 at 1:13 p.m. (report)

Mr . Williams ran from the police correct? He was suspected of robbing somebody which caused the police to look for him correct? He had a criminal record correct? Would any of this happened had he not robbed another person and then not complied with police when he ran.
Let this be a lesson to all who want to live the thug life, rob and steal rather than be a contributing member of society. But we'll have more of the same old same old I'll wager.

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mikeb | April 2, 2013 at 7:21 p.m. (report)

I have a few close friends who are MPD and they said this was a tough case right from the jump. The reason: To a man each one of them said that people all of the sudden develop "health issues" the minute they are arrested and a lot of people fake it. Now, Williams was not faking it, but they said they've seen people act the same way as Williams and end up with nothing wrong. Where they felt the case was tough was the end result was a man dying, but they admitted they may have had the exact same response as the cops did.

I know a lot of people are quick to blame the cops, but I would suggest that you try and do that job for any period of time and see what your view on the issue would be. It's not like Williams was simply minding his own business and the cops decided they were going to kill him. In fact, when they felt it was clear he wasn't faking they did everything the could to revive him. He didn't deserve to die, but he's almost become this paragon of virtue and we forget that he was picked up for a reason.

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