Canton, OH — James Williams, 46, spent his last seconds on Earth wondering who shot him during their family’s celebration to bring in the New Year. He would die in his living room in front of his family, his last words being, “I’ve been shot.” Though they didn’t know it, that bullet was fired from a police officer’s gun, from the other side of the family’s 6′ tall privacy fence around their back yard.
Blood stains still mar the floor in the living room where Williams dropped dead in front of his wife and children. Just seconds prior, they had been celebrating the new year.
According to his wife, Marquetta Williams, they had a tradition every year when they and the rest of their neighbors would fire off celebratory rounds from their legally owned AR-15. While this is an irresponsible practice, as the bullet can cause severe injury when it comes back down, countless folks fire off guns every 4th of July and New Year’s Eve — and they aren’t executed by police.
Marquetta told the Canton Repository that their daughters were watching TV “when the ball dropped” and the adults got up to go outside. Marquetta, who is a concealed carry permit holder, grabbed the family’s AR-15 to carry out the New Year’s Eve tradition.
“The kids were watching the countdown and we were going outside to shoot guns like everybody else does at New Year’s,” she said, explaining that lots of other folks in the neighborhood were doing the exact same thing.
“We do this every year because it was New Year’s Eve,” she said. “Everybody (in the neighborhood) was shooting. It was a tradition. Everybody shoots on New Year’s Eve.”
Marquetta was standing right next to her husband when he squeezed off four rounds to ring in the new year. Seconds later, he’d have a bullet in him. What should have been, at most, a misdemeanor citation for firing a gun in city limits, immediately turned into the death penalty, carried out via public execution.
According to Marquetta, the cop never said a thing before he shot through the fence and executed James who was merely practicing his Second Amendment right — albeit irresponsibly — on New Year’s Eve.
“Out of the blue, he said he got shot, he got hit,” she said. “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 could see the blood splattering across his shirt,” she said. “He collapsed in the living room.”
Marquetta immediately called police to tell them that someone had shot her husband and as she walked out of the front door, she was met by multiple cops with guns drawn.
“There were 30-something officers with guns pointing at us, telling us to get down and come out of the house with our hands up,” she recalled.
In the 911 call released to the media, Marquetta could be heard telling the dispatcher that her husband had been shot. They had no idea why.
The chief issued a news release Saturday saying that Williams was armed when police responded at 12:06 a.m. to gunfire at his house in the 2300 block of 10th Street SW. The release said “… 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.”
As James was in his backyard, there is no way for the officer to have “confronted” him so that claim is simply not true. What’s more, as Marquetta pointed out, the officer said nothing before he opened fire — on the other side of a fence through which he could not see.
According to police, they are now investigating the shooting. The officer was reportedly wearing a body camera, which could confirm everything Marquetta said, however, they have not released it publicly.
“My husband was a good man, and he didn’t deserve to die this way,” Marquetta Williams said. “He was loved. He was lovable and kind. He would give you the shirt off of his back. … He’s going to be dearly missed. He shouldn’t have died the way that he did. I just want justice for him.”
As he was killed just after midnight on New Year’s Eve in the Eastern time zone, Williams became the first person to be killed by police in 2022. He was innocent, a father of six, a loving husband, and he was executed in his own back yard.