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Assistant Milwaukee ME resigns amid suspect's death in police custody

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MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - An assistant medical examiner in Milwaukee has resigned, during a fallout over his ruling that man in police custody died from natural causes.

A spokesman for County Executive Chris Abele said Friday that Christopher Poulus quit effective October 31st.

Brendan Conway refused to speculate on whether the resignation was connected with the death of Derek Williams.

The 22-year-old Williams was under arrest for a street robbery last year when two officers refused to answer his pleas for help. And he collapsed in a squad car 8 minutes after he started gasping.

Poulus changed his ruling to homicide, the day after the Journal Sentinel posted a police video on its Web site which showed what happened to Williams.

Police and prosecutors then agreed to revisit the case. Their investigations are still going on.

The paper said Poulus did not review the video or police reports – and he only accepted an investigator’s statement that Williams was arrested without incident.

To avoid such things in the future, the Milwaukee County Board recently required the medical examiner to review all police documents and recordings before ruling on deaths in police custody.

Medical Examiner Brian Peterson said the mandate might put the national accreditation of his office in jeopardy. But the accrediting group said it was not the case, and Executive Abele allowed the Board’s action to stand. 

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