As previously reported here, the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly have passed a bill that would end the practice of law enforcement agencies investigating themselves after a death in police custody. On Wednesday, April 23, 2014, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the bill, which will take effect in about 10 days. The new law requires a team of at least two investigators from an outside agency to investigate in-custody deaths. Reports from the investigation will be released to the public if criminal charges were not filed against the law enforcement officers involved. The law is the first of its kind in the country.
Michael Bell, whose son was shot by Kenosha police back in the 2004, was a driving force behind the new law. Mr. Bell has spent the last 10 years campaigning for greater accountability when someone dies as a result of police actions, spending over $1 million on billboards, newspaper advertisements and a website.
The Milwaukee civil rights attorneys of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. represent the three young children of Derek Williams, along with their mother. Mr. Williams died in Milwaukee Police Department custody back in July 2011. We congratulate Wisconsin lawmakers for enacting the law, and we applaud the efforts of Michal Bell in seeking justice and accountability for deaths in police custody.