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Inquest jury could decide on misdemeanor charges against Milwaukee cops Thursday

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Judges gavel and stryker By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Judges gavel and stryker By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - An inquest jury in Milwaukee could decide Thursday whether misdemeanor charges should be sought against three police officers in the 2011 death of robbery suspect Derek Williams.

Special prosecutor John Franke summarized both sides Wednesday, after he and the jury heard more than a week of testimony.

The 22-year-old Williams collapsed in a squad car while in custody, and the jury must decide whether three officers should be charged with failing to render aid to Williams.

Reckless homicide charges were mentioned earlier. But after hearing much of the testimony, Franke decided they were not appropriate.

Among other things, Franke said the jury must decide whether to accept a finding that Williams died from a sickle-cell crisis which deprived his body of oxygen. He ran for a block-and-a-half from the street robbery he allegedly committed before he was finally nabbed by police.

It’s been over a quarter-century since any Milwaukee inquest jury recommended criminal charges against police in connection with deaths in custody, or shootings. Some past Milwaukee officers have been convicted of federal civil rights violations – and members of Williams’ family have told reporters they expect the same thing to eventually happen in this case. 

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