Friday, June 25, 2021

Family of man who died in Racine County Jail blindsided by sheriff's video release


The family of a man who died in the Racine County jail earlier this month said they were blindsided when the sheriff released edited video Wednesday night from inside the jail cell.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling responded to the family's claims about 27-year-old Malcolm James' jail death with seven and half minutes of a prerecorded statement and edited body camera video.

"In this video, you will see Mr. James violently hitting his head on a concrete wall," Schmaling said.

"Looking at the videotape, what I saw was my son feeling frustrated," James' mother, Sherry James, said.

"Sherry, had you ever seen any jail cell video before last night?' WISN 12 News reporter Hillary Mintz asked.

"No, I have not," Sherry James said.

Sherry James said the sheriff's office never notified her about the video release.

"That was awful to see it that way. I felt devastated. I felt defeated," Sherry James said.

The sheriff said the headbanging caused Malcolm James to become unconscious and die.

His family requested their own autopsy, which they have not shared with WISN 12 News. but they said the independent report revealed Taser, not head injuries.

"This is a homicide. There's no question about it. This is homicide," James's family attorney Kevin O'Connor said during a news conference Wednesday.

Now, three weeks later, the sheriff confirmed his staff deployed a stun gun but didn't release that portion of the video.

"Mr. James violently fought with jail staff, and they had to use of physical force to secure him for medical treatment. While it is true a Taser was used, the statements made about tasers causing death are completely false," Schmaling said on the video.

WISN 12 News tried to ask the sheriff questions Wednesday, but his office never responded.

Schmaling wasn't available Thursday, either.

The autopsies from the Milwaukee County medical examiner and the independent are not done yet.

They're both waiting for the toxicology to determine the official cause of death.

WISN 12 News filed open records requests for all additional audio and/or video connected to James' case so that it may be viewed in its entirety.


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