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Family of man who died in Racine County jail files federal lawsuit

Posted at 10:09 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 23:26:58-04

MILWAUKEE — The family of a man who died in the Racine County jail last summer has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Malcolm James died on June 1, 2021.

The Racine County District Attorney decided not to file charges.

The James family stood outside the federal courthouse in Milwaukee Friday afternoon alongside their attorney.

"For justice for my son, for Malcolm Isaiah James," said his mother, Sherry James.

The Racine County Sheriff's Office first shared a portion of body camera video which it says shows James hitting his head against the cell wall.

"They ended up OC pepper spraying him, ended up tasing him, and then in the process of pulling the prongs or taking the prongs out, they had three officers pressing on the back of his head," said James family attorney Kevin O'Connor.

The lawsuit alleges officers "had Malcolm James leaned forward in an inverted choke hold, which placed him in a position wherein he could not breathe for three minutes and eight seconds."

Body camera video released by the Racine County District Attorney shows the officers call for medical help.

The lawsuit also alleges, "No personnel including DEFENDANT OFFICERS attempted CPR or any other resuscitation efforts. The paramedics arrived and began CPR minutes later."

The Racine County District Attorney released a report in January that states the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner ruled the asphyxia as the cause of death, but found no physical signs of it. The report indicates the examiner also determined none of James' injuries caused his death.

In the report, the district attorney consulted outside experts, one of who believes the cause of death was a cardiac incident. A use of force expert indicated to the district attorney in his report, "these physical tactics were necessary to have access to Mr. James' back to see and remove the prongs, and the State agrees. The method is proscribed and trained to corrections officers all over the State and country."

TMJ4 News reached out to the Racine County Sheriff's Office, but did not hear back as of late Friday evening.


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