Today, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4) sent a letter to U.S. District Attorney James Santelle requesting a review of the circumstances surrounding the controversial death of Milwaukee resident Derek Williams in July of last year.
The letter reads as follows:
September 27, 2012
The Honorable James Santelle
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
U.S. Attorney's Office
530 Federal Building, 517 East Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202-4500
Dear Mr. Santelle,
I write this letter to respectfully request your assistance in reviewing the circumstances surrounding the controversial death of Derek Williams who died on July 6, 2011 while in police custody.
A Sept. 22, 2012 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reported that the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office changed their ruling on the cause of Mr. Williams' death from natural causes to homicide. The article reports that the medical examiner's office revisited and subsequently changed the cause of death determination after reviewing new information that the newspaper provided them, including video footage from the police cruiser.
As the details continue to emerge, it is troublesome that there are still many unanswered questions regarding the circumstances of the event itself and whether there are broader concerns about the policies and practices that may have contributed to this tragedy. Among other issues, many have expressed concerns about the initial review process and why it took approximately ten months of open record requests by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to bring them into light.
The emerging details from this case are particularly concerning to members of the Milwaukee community. Any time there is a sense that the death of a citizen is related to the conduct of a police officer or public agency, the trust of the community is gravely undermined. While I commend new special investigative efforts on the ground to resolve this matter, I welcome any outside assistance you can provide so that this issue is resolved with certainty and transparency. Further, I look forward to any recommendations you might have to ensure that similar events are prevented in the future.
Thank you again for your assistance in this matter and I look forward to working with you going forward.
Gwen S. Moore (WI-4)
Member of Congress