On New Year’s Day in Canton, Ohio, a Black man was firing a gun into the air minutes after the start of 2022. Seconds later, body-camera footage shows that a police officer fired through a wooden fence, killing the man, according to the New York Times.
The dead man was a 46-year-old Black man James R. Williams, who had four daughters and two stepdaughters.
The New York Times explains in detail what can be seen and heard on the body-camera footage:
On the video, Mr. Williams appears to be obscured by the fence, which separates him from the officer. The sound of Mr. Williams firing repeated gunshots can be heard, and smoke can be seen rising into the air behind the fence as the officer approaches it with his gun drawn.
The officer fires repeatedly into the fence without saying anything. After he finishes shooting, he says, “Shots fired, shots fired,” and yells: “Police! Get down now! Police! Get down now!”
Mr. Williams’s widow, Marquetta Williams, told The Canton Repository that her husband had been firing her AR-15 rifle into the air to celebrate the New Year when the officer fatally shot him through the family’s six-foot wooden security fence. She said that other people in the neighborhood had also been firing into the air to celebrate the New Year.
Ms. Williams said she had been standing a foot or two from her husband inside the back door of their home when he was shot.
“Out of the blue, he said he got shot, he got hit,” Ms. Williams told The Repository. “I don’t know where it came from. Nobody said anything. They didn’t say, ‘Police.’ They didn’t say, ‘Freeze.’ They didn’t say, ‘Drop your weapon.’ They just shot him.”
I wonder why their house was the one that was targeted when allegedly multiple people in the neighborhood had also been firing their guns into the air?
According to the New York Times, the shooting is being probed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The officer, whose name has not been released, has been placed on leave and all of the evidence including the body-camera footage and guns has been turned over to the bureau.
The Canton Police Department released a statement about the shooting.
From the New York Times:
In a statement about the shooting on Jan. 1, the Canton police said that they had been investigating a “shots-fired incident” when an officer who was outside 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,” the statement said. First aid was given, and the man was taken to a hospital, according to the statement, which offered no further details.
Just before the officer opens fire, the video records him saying that he saw a man’s head through the fence and heard shots. The officer says he then got out of his cruiser, went up to the porch and saw the man put a rifle away. Second later, repeated gunshots can be heard. The officer then draws his gun, approaches the fence and fires.
Earlier this week a vigil was held outside the house of Jameson Williams. Sierra Mason, a community activist, has accused the officer of “senselessly shooting” without knowing who was behind the fence, according to the New York Times.
“We should still be celebrating 2022,” Ms. Mason said, according to the Times. “But instead, we are mourning another Black man for doing the same thing white folks were doing. It makes me sick.”