Wis. police chief offers rules to protect suspects
- Associated Press
- September 5, 2013 - 10:15 AM
MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's police chief is proposing new rules intended to help prevent the death of suspects in custody.
The rules, which have to do with managing suspects who have medical conditions, came in response to the death of an epileptic man who had a seizure in the city lockup in 2010, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/18Fw0KX ).
The new procedures would govern where officers take sick prisoners, how quickly they must provide a suspect's medication and how police work with doctors to determine whether a prisoner is healthy enough to be discharged from a hospital.
Police Chief Edward Flynn proposed the rules following a review of the death of James Perry, who didn't have his epilepsy medication when he was arrested and jailed three years ago. When he had a seizure, police took him to a hospital, but medical personnel released him even after officers protested he was still sick.
Police brought him back to the station where he drooled in his lap and later soiled himself before dying on the floor of the county jail.
An internal police review cleared all officers of wrongdoing, but Flynn acknowledged that while all procedures were followed, the rules needed to be changed.
Attorney James J. Gende II, who represents Perry's family, said he was troubled that some of the proposed rules weren't already in place.
"The nature and scope of these detailed changes suggest to me glaring, unconstitutional deficiencies in the police department's handling of in-custody medical emergencies," he said.
Flynn's proposal marks the second time in a year that the police department is updating its policies following an in-custody death.
Last year, Derek Williams died after gasping for air and begging for help in the back of a squad car. Afterward Flynn took away officer discretion on seeking medical help, instead obligating officers to always call for help whenever people in custody say they're in severe physical distress.
© 2013 Star Tribune