State Crime and Court Roundup: 400 people remember a Milwaukee man who died in police custodyWisconsin News
-- About 400 people filled a hall in Milwaukee last night to remember a man who died in police custody – and to call for justice against the officers who let it happen.
MILWAUKEE - About 400 people filled a hall in Milwaukee last night to remember a man who died in police custody – and to call for justice against the officers who let it happen.
22-year-old Derek Williams was picked up for a street robbery in July of 2011. A video obtained by the Journal Sentinel showed that officers ignored him for almost eight minutes while he suffocated and begged for help. Those at last night’s meeting saw the video – and they reacted by crying, hugging, and shouting. Some called for the resignation of Police Chief Ed Flynn, who did not comment on that. Police officials, the Milwaukee Fire-and-Police Commission, and the county’s chief prosecutor had cleared the officers last year – and all three agencies re-opened their investigations this week after the release of the video. The medical examiner changed the cause of Williams’ death from natural causes to homicide. The U-S attorney’s office said it’s considering both a criminal investigation into Williams’ death, and a larger probe into possible civil rights violations by Milwaukee Police The chief and the D-A have said they would cooperate with both investigations if they take place. D-A John Chisholm has promised to name a special prosecutor to perform an inquest in which a jury would hear the evidence, and then suggest whether charges should be filed or not.
A former Hartford man has pleaded innocent to killing his girlfriend at a hotel in New London over 13 months ago. 24-year-old Kevin Lombard waived his right to a preliminary hearing yesterday in Waupaca County Circuit Court. The status of his case will be reviewed on November first. Lombard is charged with reckless homicide and strangulation-and-suffocation in the death of Amelia Schmitz in August of last year. The two were about to visit his grandparents in Eagle River when they stopped in New London for a night. At their hotel, prosecutors said the woman got angry when Schmitz said he slept with his child’s mother and another former girlfriend. And Lombard allegedly restrained her with a headlock before she collapsed and fell from their bed. Lombard told officers that he called his mother twice, and then called 9-1-1 to report the incident.
A Portage County couple is due in court this afternoon on charges that they cashed Social Security checks belonging to the woman’s mother for up to three decades. 69-year-old Delores Disher and 71-year-old Ronald Disher will find out if they’ll be ordered to stand trial in a state court on forgery and fraud-related charges. Ronald Disher is also charged with reckless endangerment, battery by a prisoner, and disorderly conduct for allegedly attacking a sheriff’s deputy who searched his home near Almond earlier this month. Delores Disher is the daughter of Marie Jost, who continued to get Social Security checks after she was apparently missing for 30 years. Prosecutors say there’s no evidence she’s still alive – but authorities say the Dishers and Marie’s son Charles Jost kept cashing Marie’s government checks. The three were arrested on September fifth. Charles Jost – who’s 66 – was ordered this week to undergo a mental exam to see if he’s mentally competent to stand trial and help with his defense.
A jury awarded one-point-eight-million dollars this week to a former state veterans’ affairs official who said he was reassigned because he supported a discrimination claim by a colleague. Gary Wistrom signed an affidavit which confirmed that former Veterans’ Secretary Ken Black told a meeting in 2010 that he wanted to get rid of “old white men” from the agency. After those comments, Black fired Randall Nitschke as the commandant of the State Veterans’ Home at Union Grove. And a few days later, Black reassigned Wistrom from Union Grove to a job 110 miles away in Madison with no explanation. Wistrom said he was forced to retire because his daily commute from Union Grove was painful due to his disabilities. He said Black – an African-American – targeted him because he was 60 years old and white, and because he supported Nitschke. Black resigned in April of last year, after denying that he used age-and-race in making his personnel decisions. The state Justice Department defended Black, and said it was disappointed in the verdict. Attorney Peter Fox said he was proud to represent Wistrom, who’s a 30-year Air Force veteran. Fox said Wistrom received the due process that the country provides, and that he fought so hard to protect while in the military. The Justice Department also said Nitschke was awarded 180-thousand dollars to settle his state and federal discrimination claims. And former National Guard spokesman Tim Donovan was awarded 282-thousand-dollars after he claimed he was passed over for a job in Black’s department because he was white.