Testimony has started in the inquest about a Milwaukee man who died in the back of a police car.
Derek Williams died in the squad car in July, 2011, after complaining to police officers that he was having trouble breathing. The inquest that started yesterday will ask a jury to decide whether to recommend criminal charges against the police. Special prosecutor John Franke told the jurors the inquest will look at the amount of force police used to subdue Williams when he was arrested for being a robbery suspect, "and that evidence of some kind of physical interaction between the officers and Derek was a basis -- if not the principle basis -- for the revisions that were done to the autopsy report."
The revisions that were made last year when the Medical Examiner's office changed the listed cause of Williams's death from homicide, meaning death at the hands of another. Franke and former assistant Medical Examiner offered graphic information about Williams's death and autopsy, and at times Williams's friends and family left the courtroom.
But attorney Jonathan Safran, who represents the mother of Williams's children, said he hopes more details reverse the trend in Milwaukee of inquests not leading to criminal charges: "Especially in the age of more instant information, then I think the prosecutor is more concerned about them and I'm hoping will present that evidence as broadly as possible."
The Williams inquest is expected to last at least the rest of this week.