$2 million settlement reached in Derek Williams’ squad car death

Derek Williams
Derek Williams

source: Journal Sentinel
published: 7 May 2019

The family of Derek Williams, who died after begging for help and gasping for breath in the back of a Milwaukee police squad car, will receive a $2 million settlement in a long-running civil rights suit against the city, attorneys said Tuesday. 

The settlement comes eight years after Williams’ death in July 2011. It took three years for the two sides to agree on a resolution to the case, which was filed in 2016.

The money will be paid over time to Williams’ three children, now 8, 9 and 10. The children and their mother still celebrate his birthday and regularly visit his grave, said Milwaukee attorney Jon Safran, whose firm represented Williams’ family along with the People’s Law Office of Chicago.

“This settlement provides educational benefits, as well as compensating them to some degree and helping them know that at least there’s some justice,” Safran said. “At least Derek’s children will have some financial benefits, even though they’ll be dealing with the death of their father for the rest of their lives.”

Assistant City Attorney Sue Lappen did not respond to a voicemail Tuesday.

Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton called the settlement a step in the right direction.

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