The family of Darryl Williams, who died after being arrested by Raleigh police in January 2023, filed a lawsuit Monday against the police department and five officers.

The lawsuit accuses the police department of having a pattern of incidents where officers use excessive force, not disciplining officers and promoting officers who do not follow department policies. 

What You Need To Know

  •  Darryl Williams died after Raleigh police used a Taser on his several times while arresting him Jan. 17, 2023

  •  Williams's family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the police department and the officers involved

  •  The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner called the death a homicide

  •  The Wake County District Attorney decided not to seek charges in the case

"They tased him, repeatedly, when he posed no immediate danger to the officers or others, including when he was under the officers’ physical control and lacked the ability to evade or take flight from the officers," the lawsuit states.

An autopsy by the state's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner called the death a homicide. The Wake County District Attorney decided not to charge any of the officers who were involved in the Jan. 17, 2023 arrest. 

“Tasers have proved time and time again to be potentially deadly to people with heart conditions, like Darryl. Tasing someone six times is unreasonable and excessive, especially when they show no threat to officers,” said Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing the family. “We hope that this lawsuit can bring about some civil accountability since the family failed to see even an ounce of criminal accountability for Darryl’s unnecessary death.”

Body camera video from the arrest shows Williams struggling with officers and trying to run away. Police used a stun gun on Williams six times as they try to subdue him, including once after Williams was handcuffed, according to the lawsuit. 

Williams was in a parked car with a passenger in southeast Raleigh when officers approached the car at about 2 a.m., according to police and the body camera video. 

Both Williams and the passenger in the car tried to run away from officers, police said. The passenger got away as police tried to arrest Williams.

The video shows Williams in a scuffle with police as he tried to get away. They used Tasers on him several times before getting Williams on the ground. They used the Taser on him again when he's on the ground.

Police knew Williams was not armed because they frisked him before he tried to run, according to the lawsuit. 

"He’s no threat to them. He’s running away from them. They Tase him four times, even after he says, ‘I have heart problems,’ they Tase him again. If that’s not cruel and unusual punishment, I don’t know what is," Crump said in a statement from June. 

"The stop that ended in Williams' death is part of controversial 'proactive patrols' done by Raleigh police," according to attorneys for the family. 

Police said they found a “white powdery substance consistent with the appearance of cocaine" in a folded dollar bill in Williams's pocket.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman defended her decision last year to not charge the officers in the case. 

"We looked specifically at the use of force, which was the deployment of the Taser. Each of the deployments of the Taser were for less than five seconds, each of them were following multiple commands and opportunities for Mr. Williams to comply with law enforcement," Freeman said.

"State law allows law enforcement to use force in bringing someone into custody, especially when there is some risk of physical assault or injury to the officers themselves," she said. "While it certainly was tragic and unfortunate, it does not give rise to criminal charges for the officers have used force in this situation."

Within minutes after the arrest, Williams stopped breathing, according to a police report. Body camera video shows officers giving CPR to Williams and calling for an ambulance. An hour later, Williams was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. 

"It is an extrajudicial killing, it’s a state-sanctioned killing of yet again another unarmed Black person," Crump said last year.

"These DAs continue to come up with justification for white police officers and Black police officers to kill Black and brown people unjustly," he said.

The lawsuit accuses the five officers of using excessive force, assault and battery and wrongful death.