Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman announced late Wednesday night a 20-year-old Milwaukee man died while in police custody at the District 5 police station earlier Wednesday evening.
Norman provided little information at a media briefing but said the incident began at roughly 1:55 a.m., when Milwaukee police conducted a traffic stop in the 2200 block of West Capitol Drive.
During the traffic stop, police discovered the driver had a warrant out for his arrest and he was taken into custody. Police then took the man to District 5 police station, where he was booked.
He was identified Thursday as Keishon D. Thomas.
Later that evening, at roughly 5:53 p.m., Norman said a District 5 booker discovered the man in need of medical attention. Life-saving measures were administered on the man, according to Norman, but he later died.
The man was in custody for at least 16 hours prior to his death. “District 5 bookers conducted multiple cell checks,” Norman said.
Three Milwaukee police officers have been placed on administrative duty, as is standard procedure. The Milwaukee Area Investigative Team lead by the Waukesha Police Department will be conducting the investigation.
Norman said the department will issue a community briefing video with further details on the incident in the future.
An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday and the death is being investigated as an accident, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Thomas was a father of two toddlers who loved basketball and cars. He was remembered Thursday as a happy, outgoing caretaker to a large family.
Thomas was the second-oldest in a family of nine children, but he felt like an older brother even to his one older sibling, Armanda Cleveland. She said he was constantly looking after family members, doing everything from acting as a protector to helping others with schoolwork.
“He was so much better at math than me,” Cleveland said.
The help extended to his grandparents, Thomas’ mother, Markeisha Evans, said. He would buy them groceries, pick up medications for them and share his food stamps with them.
“He was getting it done,” Evans said.
Thomas spent much of his free time playing basketball and rapping with friends, Cleveland said. He enjoyed late-night drives around Milwaukee, sometimes stopping at Walmart to eat candy in the parking lot, and looking after his collection of model cars.
Evans said her son was on his way to pick up a younger sibling from work when he was pulled over by police. They had no information about what happened in his holding cell, but Cleveland said she is hopeful her brother was not a victim of some form of injustice.
“There’s not a lot of justice when it comes to minority families and officers,” she said. “I just really don’t want my brother to be forgotten or looked at as a bad person. He was the complete opposite.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee man who died in police custody identified as Keishon Thomas
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism