Officers in Derek Williams inquest will not be charged with homicide

CREATED Feb 19, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - The inquest into the controversial death of a man inside a Milwaukee police car is almost over. The prosecutor has decided there will be no felony charges against police.

The jury will only consider charges against three officers for failure to render aid. Special Prosecutor John Franke said there wasn't enough evidence to ask for homicide charges.

We heard from two officers who initially pleaded the fifth, but today said what they saw the night Williams died.

Officer Patrick Coe testified he heard Williams complain he couldn't breathe while he was on his stomach being arrested.

“I remember he said ‘I can't breathe’, or something to that effect,” said Coe.

Squad car video shows Williams complaining he couldn't breathe. He died from sickle cell crisis, a condition that deprives the body of oxygen.

Sergeant Robert Thiel arrived just as Williams was on the ground being handcuffed, and said he checked to see if Williams was ok.


“He was laying on the ground, with his eyes closed,” said Thiel. “It didn't appear that he was breathing hard. It just looked like he was laying peacefully on the ground with his eyes closed.”

The officers say they were able to get Williams to walk to the squad car.

Officer Coe testified after they put Williams in the car, he left to look for evidence. But that's when he heard another officer call for help. When he got back to the car, Williams was on the ground.

“I checked his pulse, and gave him a sternum rub,” said Coe. “He wasn't responding, so I started CPR and compressions.”

Members of Williams’ family did not know Franke wasn't going to recommend homicide charges. They said me they are still planning on the federal government filing charges.