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Abele will punish staff if found responsible for man's death at mental health complex

Abele will punish staff if found responsible for man's death at mental health complex

By WTMJ News Team. CREATED Oct 17, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 17, 2012

MILWAUKEE- While the family of a man who recently died at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex is waiting for answers, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is promising to punish county employees if they're found responsible.

Brandon Johnson died suspiciously just days after police brought him to the mental health complex.

Family members say when Johnson went to the mental health complex he was a physically healthy, 25-year-old man and a college graduate. 

"(We) just want to know what happened to him," pleaded Johnson's aunt at a vigil last week.

Since the vigil, Johnson's family has been advised not to talk publicly.  There are at least five separate investigations and there could be a lawsuit.

"The family is very upset," says the family's attorney Jonathan Safran.  "Until we know who was involved and who is being responsible for the cause of his death, we're not going to make any determination."

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says Milwaukee police brought Johnson to the facility in handcuffs and leg irons on October 3.  Just three days later, authorities say Johnson died of a broken neck that led to a fatal blood clot.  At this time, it isn't clear what caused those injuries.

The Milwaukee County Board met secretly, behind closed doors for more than an hour Wednesday about this young man's death. 

"I can't make any comments at all," says Milwaukee County Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele would not discuss details, but says county workers will be punished if they're found responsible.

"I work hard not to jump to judgment without having facts," says Abele.  "If that is the case, if there were staff responsible, they will be held accountable."

There have been five deaths at the mental health complex this year, and the county executive says that's frustrating problem.