Madison -Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) recently joined the chorus of Milwaukee officials calling for an independent federal criminal investigation into the Milwaukee Police Department’s treatment of Derek Williams and the pattern of civil rights abuses by the Department. Grigsby released the following statement: “This is not about the sudden emergence of ‘new information,’ as District Attorney Chisolm termed it, on Mr. Williams’ death. This is about the handling of information that already existed, and it is about a larger pattern of abuse and cover-ups over the years that have made it difficult to trust the Milwaukee Police Department. What else is the Department hiding? It’s time for an independent federal investigation to find out.
“For the Department to respond to our outrage with lip service about training officers is offensive. No amount of training could overcome the brutal disregard of another human being that the video footage of Mr. Williams’ death captures. If anything, it is the policies that allowed for a 14-month lag between his death and the release of the video footage that need to be reexamined. Reporters pressed for ten months before the Department finally relented. This was a drawn-out attempt to prevent Mr. Williams’ family and the public from
ever knowing the truth about his death.
“I do not see how anyone who watched the video, as Police Chief Flynn and DA Chisolm did, could not have known that Mr. Williams was slowly and painfully dying. Furthermore, it is impossible to imagine a slender 22 year-old young white man–handcuffed in the back of a squad car, gasping for air, and pleading for his life—being disregarded as Mr. Williams was. This sort of treatment is wrong, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, neighborhood, or any other classification.
“It is time for Milwaukee to stop its rise in the ranks of cities characterized by police brutality and civil rights abuses. We must hold the Department and the DA’s Office accountable for these injustices. Beyond this, the Department needs a complete overhaul, guided by the findings of independent federal investigators, to definitively end the corruption.”