I’ll admit….I’ve been remiss in not writing about the death of Derek Williams, who died in the custody of the Milwaukee Police Department in July 2011. At the time, Williams’ death was ruled as being due to “natural causes”, a ruling that has since been changed to homicide now that the facts surrounding Williams’ arrest (not to mention the video of him dying) have come to light.
Listen as 59 seconds into the video, an officer can be heard telling Williams, “You’re just playing games,” as if
According to a report by Gina Barton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, two of the officers named in reports related to the death of Derek Williams are also among a group of Milwaukee Police officers linked to the inquiry into allegations Milwaukee Police officers performed illegal strip searches on suspects, violating those suspects’ civil rights.
The Milwaukee police officer who told a suffocating Derek Williams “You’re breathing just fine” is one of at least half a dozen officers under investigation for potentially violating suspects’ civil rights through illegal strip searches in the city.
Officer Jeffrey Cline – who later told Williams, “You’re just playing games” before Williams lost consciousness in the back of a squad car and died in July 2011 – is accused of standing by while a fellow officer conducted a cavity search for drugs a month later, according to police reports and a notice of claim filed with the city.
A second officer, Gregory Kuspa, also is named in both sets of reports.
While I’ve read a number of comments from conservatives in the Cheddarsphere (including one former member of the Milwaukee Police Department) who want to blame Derek Williams’ criminal behavior for his death in police custody, the fact is officers failed to take action until it was too late, resulting in Derek Williams’ death. Whatever crimes Derek Williams may or may not have committed that resulted in his arrest in July 2011, those crimes certainly don’t justify his death, nor should they mitigate the responsibility of those Milwaukee Police officers who were responsible for Williams while he was in their custody.