Family of man killed after police tasing calls for accountability

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Body camera footage shows the deadly arrest of Darryl Tyree Williams in Raleigh, North Carolina, on January 17, 2023 [city of Raleigh via AP]

Darryl Tyree Williams, an African American, told police he had a heart problem during an arrest. They tased him anyway.

The family of a Black man named Darryl Tyree Williams who died after being repeatedly tased by police in Raleigh, North Carolina, has called for accountability in his death.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump and Williams’s family said the officers involved in the arrest last month should be fired and charged. Crump said the 32-year-old had been denied “humanity” when police tased him after he told them he had a heart problem.

“Miss Williams hasn’t had a peaceful night since her son was killed due to excessive force,” Crump said.

“It’s a tragic irony that we have another Tyre,” he added, referencing a Black man named Tyre Nichols, who died after a police beating in Memphis, Tennessee, also in January.

Williams is the latest Black man to be killed by police, a trend that has spurred debate over issues such as racism, police violence and accountability in the United States.

Body camera footage of the incident was released by authorities on Friday.

Crump drew parallels between the deaths of Williams and Nichols and called on Raleigh’s police department to follow the example set by Memphis, where he said officials took swift action to hold the officers involved in the incident to account.

“We saw what I believe should be the blueprint going forward,” Crump said. “They fired the police, arrested the police and charged the police in 20 days.”

Six officers involved in the arrest of Williams have been placed on administrative leave, and the State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an inquiry. The police department sought a judge’s permission to release the body camera and dash camera video from patrol cars.

Williams’s mother told reporters on Thursday that she had not been contacted by the chief of police or city officials. “They didn’t have to kill my son,” she said.

Williams died in a hospital on January 17 shortly after he was repeatedly tased by police officers. They had confronted him after they reportedly saw an open alcohol container in a parked car with Williams in the driver’s seat.

Local activist groups such as Emancipate NC have called for the termination of the officers involved in the arrest, an end to police use of stun guns and changes to the city’s police advisory board.

Some have also criticised “proactive policing”, which saturates “hot spot” neighbourhoods with law enforcement. Activists also tied that approach to policing with the death of Nichols in Memphis, where a special crime unit had gained a reputation for a hard-charging attitude and harassment of residents.

“We don’t see them going into white neighbourhoods with this ‘proactive policing’,” Crump said on Thursday. “Why do they get to do this in our neighbourhoods?”

The body camera footage shows Williams being tased after a struggle ensues. Later in the video, after police say Williams broke free, he is seen in a parking lot saying he has a heart problem when an officer threatens to tase him again.

Shortly after Williams is handcuffed and detained, an officer can be heard expressing concern about his condition, asking if he has a pulse. Officers tried to give him medical treatment at the scene before he was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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