One cop brushes off the pleas, telling Williams he’s “playing games.” “What’s your last name,” the officer asks. “I can’t breathe,” Williams replies. “You’re breathing just fine,” the cop says.
Moments later, Williams slumped over and fell unconscious. The officers and paramedics tried to revive him with CPR, but he was pronounced dead 45 minutes later.
Milwaukee cops are under fire over a shocking new video showing a man’s death while in police custody, as well as a medical examiner’s report that the young father died of a homicide and not natural causes.
Dashcam video captured 22-year-old Derek Williams’ last gasps for breath in the back of a police cruiser after he was arrested for an attempted mugging in July 2011. In the video, the cuffed Williams’ chest heaves as he tells the officers he’s having trouble breathing.
The Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office initially said Williams died from natural causes, but changed the ruling to a homicide after seeing the video and other documents provided by the newspaper, including the opinion of a national expert.
Werner U. Spitz, a leading forensic pathologist, told the Journal Sentinel that the young father of three may have suffered a sickle cell crisis and suffocated as a result of being manhandled by police during the bust. Williams, who had been released from jail earlier in the day, took off from cops after trying to rob a couple, but was caught and handcuffed while lying face down on the ground, according to police reports.
“The people that are directly and indirectly responsible for Derek’s death need to be taken to jail and tried in a court of law,” protester Montgomery Baker told the Journal Sentinel.
“Their job is to protect and serve and take care of the community and not add to the problem.” Williams’ family called for a federal investigation, and Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm has appointed a special prosecutor to look into whether the cops committed a crime.
Flynn, meanwhile, admitted that the officers should have acted sooner when Williams complained he couldn’t breathe, but has defied calls to step down. “If they think they can accomplish that, they’re welcome to try, but I’m not going anywhere,” he said Wednesday.