Murder resulting from police misconduct and brutality amounts to only a misdemeanor, the shocked residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin have recently discovered.
That apparently also extends to killer cops who conspire to hide their crime, obstruct investigations, and commit perjury once dragged kicking and screaming into a courtroom.
Sadder still is that even this tiny measure of justice could only be afforded through a last-minute offer of immunity to two other MPD officers who’d either joined in the illegal police action in 2011 or witnessed it, but never before admitted being present at the scene.
The shifty pair provided testimony against a trio of MPD’s uniformed thugs who, even under oath, continue to insist they “didn’t notice” 22-year-old Derek Williams struggling to breathe after they roughed him up during a false arrest. Nor did they hear any of his urgent pleas for medical attention.
Those would be officers Hear No, See No and Speak No, of course. (No relation to each other.)
Wrongful death, excessive force, disabled dash-cams, evidence tampering, intimidaton…police misconduct of this magnitude has, unfortunately, become all too commonplace for Milwaukee’s men in blue. It’s also the same kind of corruption that plagues thousands more police departments in the United States as well. Large and small alike.
However, the city of Milwaukee is one of the very first municipalities where a beleaguered but determined citizenry has finally banded together and declared they’ve had enough of their lawmen’s lawlessness.
This year, Milwaukee’s citizen activists have drawn a bright red line in the sand regarding the Blue Line that no one’s supposed to question or cross. They’ve introduced sweeping new reforms which will forever take the hiring, firing, and disciplining of rogue officers out of the hands of fellow cops.
That’s a long overdue change of policy because in the past decade or more Wisconsin has literally become the land of missing and dead young men. Especially ones who’ve mistakenly visited city pubs and clubs where off-duty policemen and their associates often moonlight as bouncers.
A high percentage of those unlucky and allegedly “undesirable” patrons are then spotted doing the Dead Man’s Float in nearby bodies of water, days weeks or months after being ejected from certain establishments.
A few even, like 24-year-old Nick Wilcox who vanished this year within only minutes of being hauled out of a downtown Milwaukee bar where he was celebrating New Years, are sometimes never found again, no matter where or how hard searchers hunt for them.
Considering the deadly detention of Derek Williams, it’s not difficult to imagine that these other detained young men met a similar fate to his, and in similar fashion. The deciding factor as to which of the victims would “drown” or simply be delivered up to their families in coffins probably entirely dependent on whether or not they had any witnesses to their final hours…which Williams definitely did.
The problem with profiling
The problem with profiling any individual for any reason is that it’s sloppy police work.
It also constitutes a major civil rights violation.
Derek Williams’ loved ones believe that’s exactly what happened to their young man who had no prior criminal record whatsoever when the young African American male and father of three was targeted by the Milwaukee police as a suspected armed robber.
Now the Williams family is giving the MPD a good run for their money in pursuing the heavy-handed, racist patrolmen responsible for singling out and assaulting Derek Williams solely because of his skin color, then allowing him to die in the back of their squad car from the injuries they inflicted.
In the quest for justice, the Williams family has also been aided considerably by one Michael Bell, the father of another young man who was tasered, beaten and killed by cops from neighboring Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Bell generously purchased dozens of billboards in the Milwaukee area to advertise the Derek Williams slaying.
In late 2004, Bell’s son, also named Michael, was shot in the head in his own driveway after a suspicious traffic stop. He had been due to testify in court the next day regarding a separate incident that occurred only six weeks prior with the same officer. The youth was unarmed at the time of the fatal attack.
Michael Bell Sr. sued Kenosha for the conspiracy to off his son and cover it up, and received a nearly two-million-dollar settlement in compensation. He’s now using that money to fund projects which help get the message out about crooked cops and the lack of police accountability for in-custody deaths.
Missing under the influence
Federal authorities have finally taken note of the huge numbers of missing young men found drowned throughout the United States and are said to be reconsidering an investigation into specific hot zones where these suspicious deaths are annually occurring.
Once dubbed the Smiley Face Serial Murders, the non-recreational drowning of college age males in America’s northland is an issue the FBI has already declined to delve too deeply into.
Years ago the Bureau examined forty-plus cases which had accrued from 1997, yet ultimately rejected the theory of a serial killing “gang” being responsible for any of them.
Since then, though, there have been many hundreds of such disappearances and deaths, and the phenomena is in fact spreading at an alarming rate into other areas well beyond the nation’s borders.
With that body count steadily climbing, public speculation too has increased and, although some theories still center around the so called Smiley perpetrators, others provide much less mysterious explanations, especially now that the data reveals an overwhelming majority of Smiley’s victims were last seen alive being manhandled by security personnel or police.
Many major cities in Wisconsin have become infamous for amassing scores of such drowning events in their jurisdictions these past 16-years, so if federal investigators do take on the case, as is expected, they’re more than likely to launch their inquiry in that region first.
Yet more bad news for Milwaukee’s not-so-finest.
Eponymous Rox is the author of THE CASE OF THE DROWNING MEN