The family of James R. Williams, a Black man who was fatally shot by an Ohio police officer while firing shots into the air to celebrate the new year, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against an officer and the city of Canton, according to the Associated Press.
On New Years day in Canton, Ohio, 46-year-old James Williams fired shots into the air to celebrate the holiday. He was behind a wooden fence in his backyard. Robert Huber, the police officer who shot Williams, fired multiple rounds through the fence as Williams fired shots into the air.
Bodycam footage shows Huber saying, “Get Down!” after he shot Williams, who died in the hospital, according to the Associated Press.
According to reports, multiple people in the neighborhood were also firing shots into the air.
From the Associated Press:
Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo on the day of the shooting said the officer was outside his vehicle and confronted someone who began shooting a firearm. Angelo said the officer feared for his safety and fired his duty weapon at the person, striking him.
Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei released a statement to The Canton Repository, which first reported on the lawsuit Wednesday, that the city had no comment. The statement noted that the shooting is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and that its findings would be presented to a Stark County grand jury to determine whether criminal charges would be filed.
Messages were left with Huber’s attorney on Thursday.
The lawsuit is looking for compensatory and special damages for claims that include excessive force, wrongful death, deliberate indifference to medical needs, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to the Associated Press.
Marquetta Williams, James’ widow, said during a news conference, “ I will fight today, tomorrow and every day until I have no breath left because it’s my family today but may be yours tomorrow.”
Williams’ three minor children are named as plaintiffs in the case, according to the Associated Press.