Retired MPD officer charged in Keishon Thomas death makes initial court appearance

NOW: Retired MPD officer charged in Keishon Thomas death makes initial court appearance

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A now-retired Milwaukee Police Department officer charged in the death of a man in police custody made their first court appearance Wednesday.

Donald Krueger is charged with one count of abuse of resident of penal facility in the death of Keishon Thomas.

Twenty-year-old Thomas died at Milwaukee Police Department District 5 on Feb. 23, 2022 after being taken into custody following a traffic violation.

Krueger had an initial appearance Wednesday, March 15. He signed a $5,000 signature bond.

"I'm very sorry for the family, I'm not trying to diminish the seriousness of this at all, but we will fight these charges," Krueger's lawyer, Paul Bucher, told reporters. "He did nothing to punish an individual or not aid an individual within the cell."

According to a criminal complaint, Thomas admitted he ingested drugs before his arrest, including one crack rock, some marijuana, and a pill, which officials believed may have been a Xanax.

He died after being found in need of medical attention in his jail cell. His cause of death was determined to be acute mixed drug intoxication.

Records show Donald Krueger, 49, is charged with abuse of a resident of a penal facility, and Marco Lopez, 40, is charged with misconduct in public office.

The complaint says per MPD standard operating procedure, it's required to do a visual check of prisoners in the cell block. Investigators say Lopez intentionally made entries in a report book which were false, "reflecting numerous inmate checks and inmate counts that never occurred."

The complaint goes on to say Krueger neglected Thomas by failing to give him medical attention despite seeing him "dry heave multiple times" and being informed that he had recently ingested multiple controlled substances.

Krueger was placed on full suspension at the time of the incident. He retired in November of 2022, with 25 years of service.

Lopez has over 12 years of service with the department. He is currently on full suspension.

Krueger's lawyer believes as more evidence is presented, his client will be found not responsible for the death of Keishon Thomas.

"It's very complicated, more so than you think. I know the video tape y'all got doesn't really give the whole picture, but the reports do, and I believe that he'll be exonerated," Bucher said.

Krueger's preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 4.

Lopez is set to make an initial appearance later this month.

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