The widow of a black Ohio man killed by a police officer on New Year’s Day demands justice after her husband was shot and killed without warning during their yearly celebratory gunshot routine as the calendar switched over to the next year.
The event happened only minutes after Marquetta Williams and her family rang in the new year at their 10th Street SW home, according to the Canton Repository.
The wife informed the newspaper that her husband, James Williams, had been shooting celebratory rounds into the air in their backyard with his AR-15, as is a community practice.
Marquetta Williams said her husband fired four rounds into the air. “I’ve been shot,” he exclaimed as he turned around to follow his wife back into the house, where she had been standing only a foot away.
“My husband and I both went out there to celebrate by shooting firearms in the air,” Williams explained.
The 46-year-old was behind a 6-foot wooden privacy fence, making it nearly hard to look in or out, according to the widow. Williams said her husband was unaware that police were stationed on the other side of their fence and that her husband was not firing at officers.
“He stated he got shot, he got hit out of nowhere,” Williams explained. “I have no idea where that came from.” Nobody made a comment. ‘Police,’ they didn’t say. ‘Freeze,’ they didn’t say. ‘Drop your firearm,’ they didn’t say. They just shot him. I could see the blood splattering across his shirt. He collapsed in the living room.”
Williams said she called 911 but instead was met with “30-something officers with guns pointing at us, telling us to get down and come out of the house with our hands up.”
The father was rushed to Aultman Hospital, where he succumbed to his gunshot injuries.
Canton police said in a press release, “The officer, who was outside of his vehicle, confronted a subject that began shooting a firearm. The officer, in fear for his safety, fired his duty weapon at the subject and struck him.”
Williams’ assertions that her husband was shot without warning were supported by body camera footage published on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
The officer who fired the bullets, whose name has not been revealed, hears the shots, takes his pistol, walks up to the tall fence, and fires at least four times through it blindly. He never introduced himself to the victim or talked with them.
The footage then shows another cop hiding behind a cruiser and saying, “Show me your (expletive) hands,” as Williams entered the house.
“Everyone on the ground,” the cop who fired said. “Out here, on the sidewalk, on the ground”. Marquetta Williams was next, followed by a slew of others.
“It hurts me,” the widow said at a vigil. [The officer] was able to return home to his loved ones. My husband, on the other hand, did not.”
The residents in the neighborhood were incensed. Sierra Mason, an activist, described the officer’s shooting “senselessly at a Black family for doing the same thing his white friends were doing” a double standard.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave while the inquiry is ongoing.