Police in North Carolina released footage Friday showing officers use a stun gun on a Black man who had told officers he had heart issues. At one point the man, who died about an hour later, was held on the ground by officers as he was shocked.
Darryl Tyree Williams, 32, was pronounced dead at a hospital Jan. 17. A police report says officers observed an open container of alcohol and marijuana in a parked car as Williams was in the driver’s seat. During an attempt to arrest him, police say Williams was shocked three times and eventually handcuffed by officers in southeast Raleigh.
Six officers are on administrative leave amid an investigation by the Raleigh Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit. The State Bureau of Investigation is also conducting a probe.
Video shows a chaotic interaction where officers repeatedly claim Williams was not cooperating. Amid a flurry of commands and uses of a stun gun, Williams at times appears to flee, only to be brought to the ground by officers.
The Raleigh Police Department told USA TODAY it does not does not comment on ongoing investigations.
Latest news, more details about the death of Darryl Tyree Williams
- Footage of the arrest was released by a state judge and shows officers approaching and searching a parked car that Williams was in. Officers had been conducting “proactive patrols” of businesses, according to a report from the department.
- An autopsy has been performed on Williams and a final report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will be provided later on, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Friday.
- Police say they found two firearms in the vehicle, one of which had been reported stolen, according to a police report. Police have not claimed Williams was armed at the time he was repeatedly shocked with a stun gun.
- Another other passenger of the vehicle left the scene on foot, the report said.
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Video shows police encounter with Darryl Tyree Williams escalate
In one body camera video, an officer is shown approaching a car and asking the two men in the car to “have a seat.”
The men exit the vehicle and repeatedly ask “Why?” and “For what?” A man can be heard saying “I’m not doing anything” several times in multiple videos.
Officers order Williams to put his hands up or behind his back. Then, a struggle ensues. An officer can be seen deploying a stun gun, stopping Williams and causing him to fall.
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“I’m going to tase you again,” one officer is heard saying as he and other officers are on the ground with Williams.
Video shows officer used stun gun after Darryl Tyree Williams was on ground
Williams then broke away from officers and is seen running a short distance away before falling to the ground.
“Why are you all doing this to me?” Williams can be heard asking.
“I have heart problems,” he said as multiple officers held him to the ground and demanded he put his hands behind his back. “Please. Please. Please.”
Willians supported himself with his elbows and arms as officers restrained him in an apparent effort to keep him from fleeing again. An officer can be seen pressing the stun gun against Williams’s back as he demanded that Williams put his hands behind his back.
When Williams did not, the officer deployed the stun gun again, causing Williams to scream and writhe. Several officers then handcuff his hands behind his back.
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Over the next several minutes, officers can be heard asking if Williams if breathing and checking his pulse. When they no longer detect a pulse, they begin doing chest compressions on Williams before emergency medical services arrive.
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What policing experts say about the death of Darryl Tyree Williams
Mike Lawlor, associate criminal justice professor at the University of New Haven:
- Questioned if using the stun gun was necessary because Williams did not appear to pose any threat to the officers.
- Raised concerns about officers using the weapon in stun mode, holding it up against Williams’s body while he was held facedown on the ground, something he says “causes an extraordinary amount of pain.”
- “It seems excessive,” Lawlor said. “How that was necessary under the circumstances, I can’t imagine.”
Ian Adams, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of South Carolina said:
- Video isn’t enough to determine if there was excessive use of force.
- Officers appeared to follow some recent guidance on using stun guns on areas like the back rather than targeting the upper chest area.
- Stun gun deaths are uncommon and often also caused by other compounding factors, including pre-existing conditions or alcohol or drug intoxication.
- “I suggest we withhold final judgment on tactical decisions being made here,” he said.
Family, community responds to in-custody death
Williams’s family held a vigil Thursday night in honor of him.
“He was too young. He hadn’t even really started,” his aunt, Mary Cabell, told The News & Observer. “I want some answers, and I want to know why my nephew got taken.”
Family members saw the footage Thursday, a city spokesperson said. The family had no comment on the release of the footage Friday, according to Emancipate NC, a criminal justice reform group working with the family.
Advocacy groups including Emancipate NC presented a list of demands to Raleigh City Council, calling for the firing of the officers involved, reforming the city’s police advisory board and temporarily discontinuing the use of Tasers.
“How many times do we have to watch public executions before policing will be held accountable?” Dawn Blagrove with Emancipate NC said. “Emancipate NC stands behind the demands presented to Raleigh City Council and expect to see officers held accountable for Darryl Williams’ death.”
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