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Inquest jury could decide on misdemeanor charges against cops in Williams death

Brass Milled Gavel By walknboston (Flickr: Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Brass Milled Gavel By walknboston (Flickr: Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - An inquest jury could decide Wednesday whether three Milwaukee police officers should be charged with criminal misdemeanors, for letting Derek Williams die in their custody.

More than a week of testimony ended Tuesday, and special prosecutor John Franke will give jurors a closing statement Wednesday morning before they begin to deliberate.

Franke said felony charges are not appropriate, due to the nature of the evidence presented. Instead, jurors will consider whether to support possible misdemeanor counts against three officers for not rendering aid.

Those three are Richard Ticcioni, who restrained Williams – and Jeffrey Cline and Jason Bleichwehl, who were in a squad car where Williams collapsed after complaining that he couldn’t breathe.

The incident happened in 2011, and a newly-released video last year showed the 22-year-old Williams gasping for air before collapsing. He was wanted for a street robbery and ran away for a block-and-a-half before he was nabbed.

Franke said there’s not enough evidence to prove that Williams’ confinement – or a late request for medical help – were substantial factors in the suspect’s death.