MILWAUKEE — The family of the 20-year-old man who died in Milwaukee police custody Wednesday is speaking out, as three police officers are on administrative duty pending an investigation.
Sixteen hours – that is the amount of time that passed between Keishon Thomas being arrested, and him being pronounced dead while in custody at Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) District 5.
“I need answers, because that was my son,” said Markeisha Evans. “He had no underlying health issues.”
Evans was surprised when two police detectives showed up at her home saying they needed to talk to her about Keishon.
“They told me he was dead,” Evans said. “But they gave me no other details.”
According to investigators, Keishon was pulled over by police near 22nd and Capitol for a traffic violation around 1:55 a.m. Wednesday. There was a warrant for him tied to other traffic violations, so he was arrested and taken to District 5.
Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said Wednesday night that drugs were also recovered.
“District 5 bookers conducted multiple cell checks, but at 5:53 p.m. they found an individual unresponsive, and started administering medical life-saving measures until paramedics arrived,” said Chief Norman. “Efforts to save the individual were unsuccessful.”
At 6:19 p.m. Keishon was pronounced dead inside a holding cell. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner responded to Police District 5 a little before 6:30 p.m.
According to the Milwaukee Police Department’s Standard Operating Procedure, bookers shall conduct a visual cell block check at staggered and random intervals, a minimum of four times an hour. Shift commanders shall physically enter the cell block and conduct a visual check of each cell at least once per shift. During cell block checks, the booker shall ensure that the prisoner is present in the cell and has no apparent physical problems.
Keishon’s girlfriend, and the mother of his five-month-old baby girl, spoke to him right before he was taken into custody.
“He told me he was being pulled over for not using his blinker,” said Myangel Thomas.
She says she spent hours Wednesday trying to get information on Keishon, and didn’t find out he was dead until 9 p.m.