A Canton, Ohio, police officer shot dead a man just minutes after the start of the new year as he fired in the air to celebrate the advent of 2022. Marquetta Williams told Cleveland 19 News that she was only yards from her husband, James Williams, a 46-year-old father of six, when he was shot. According to Marquetta, the officer opened fire on him without warning.
Williams said she and her husband used an AR-15 rifle she owned to fire shots into the air early on Saturday, a common practice in many working-class neighborhoods across the United States. She added that shooting was an annual tradition in their neighborhood and that many neighbors also fired shots in the neighborhood that night.
“The kids would watch the countdown and we would go outside to shoot guns like everyone else does on New Years,” she said.
The couple returned to their house after firing a few shots, but James decided to go back outside and shoot again, Marquetta said. She told the Cleveland 19 News that James fired four shots into the air, standing inside their closed wooden fence while Marquetta stood nearby in the doorway. However, once James turned to come back inside, he told her, “I was hit. “
“I could see the blood splashing on his shirt,” Williams said. “He collapsed in the living room.
She also said that James was behind a six foot high fence, adding: “You can’t see inside. You can’t see outside.”
Williams immediately called 911. When she opened her door, she said: “There were about 30 officers with guns pointed at us telling us to get down and out of the house with our hands in our hands. air.”
James Williams was rushed to hospital, but was declared dead there shortly after.
In a press release, Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo said police were investigating reports of gunfire when an officer outside his vehicle confronted someone. one who started shooting a gun. The official police account says the officer feared for his safety and fired his service weapon at Williams, hitting him.
Police have so far declined to comment further on the incident, but have confirmed Williams was pronounced dead at 12:27 a.m. in a hospital a few blocks from his home.
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative duty and his name has not been released. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has opened an investigation into the incident, gathering all evidence, including body camera footage and guns, none of which has been disclosed to the public.
Marquetta said no officer identified himself before the shooting.
“Out of the blue he said he had been shot, that he had been hit,” she said. ” I do not know where it comes from. Nobody said anything. They didn’t say “Police”. They didn’t say “Freeze”. They didn’t say, “Drop your gun”. They just shot him.
Asked by 19 News about the officer who shot her husband, she said: “Her life was in danger, because you didn’t announce yourself. It’s in cold blood and I’m not going to rest until he gets justice, period.
“My husband was a good man and he didn’t deserve to die this way,” Marquetta told Yahoo News. “He was loved. He was adorable and kind. He would give you the shirt on his back… He shouldn’t have died like he did. I just want justice done for him.
Williams told reporters protests and a vigil were planned for her late husband in the coming days.
Despite mass protests demanding an end to police violence and high-profile convictions, notably against George Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin, the rate of police murders in the United States has remained stable. According to Mapping Police Violence, police killed 1,117 people in 2021, for an average of just over three murders per day, as in previous years.