RALEIGH, N.C. — Gathered in front of a Martin Luther King statue Friday, attorneys for the family of a man killed by police called for city leadership and the district attorney to punish the officers responsible for his death.
The family’s attorneys held a news conference at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens in Raleigh on Friday morning, and the group praised the recent release of an autopsy, which ruled the death of 32-year-old Darryl Tyree Williams a homicide.
“How important it was that the autopsy confirmed for Ms. Williams and all of Darryl's family that he did not die from natural causes. The cause and manner of death was homicide,” said civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who spoke at the news conference.
Williams died on Jan. 17. That night, at about 2 a.m. Raleigh police approached a parked car in the southeast section of the city. Williams and another passenger were inside, and authorities say Williams had “white powdery substance consistent with the appearance of cocaine" in a folded dollar bill in his pocket.
Both Williams and the other passenger fled, but officers caught Williams, and used stun guns on him as they tried to subdue him, authorities say. Williams can be heard saying on video footage telling police he had heart problems.
Crump and other attorneys said the lack of police accountability is a public health crisis.
“We want equal justice regardless of race, social status, mental health status. We just want to treat citizens like citizens, treat Americans like Americans," Crump said. "We're not asking for anything special. We just want equal justice.”
Crump said the ball is now in the district attorney’s court. The D.A. can choose to press charges against the six officers involved in Williams' death. Those officers have been on paid administrative leave since the incident happened.
District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said her office is reviewing the case. She expects a decision within the next 30 days.
Attorney Dawn Blagrove with the nonprofit group Emancipate N.C. also spoke at the news conference Friday and called for Freeman to bring charges against the officers involved in Williams’ death.
Sonya Williams, Darryl Williams’ mother, spoke too and cried out for justice in her son’s death.
“Justice for Darryl Tyree. I am Sonya Williams, the mother of Darryl Williams. That was my son. And I miss him every day very dearly. Now that we have the autopsy, everyone knows what happened, which I knew from day one, it was murder. Now I want justice for my son.”