Family of Darryl Williams Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against City of Raleigh and Chief of Police

By Will Michaels Published March 18, 2024 at 4:53 PM EDT

Will Michaels / WUNC
Darryl Williams’ mother, Sonya Williams (second from left) holds the hand of civil rights attorney Ben Crump at a press conference Jun. 9, 2023, in Raleigh.

The family of Darryl Tyree Williams has filed a lawsuit against the city of Raleigh, claiming Raleigh police officers unlawfully detained and tased him during an encounter last year that resulted in his death.

Raleigh police said officers approached Williams in his car in Jan. 2023 while carrying out what the department calls “proactive patrolling,” a policy that assigns more officers to areas in which residents repeatedly report crimes or other concerns.

Officers said they observed an open container of alcohol and marijuana in Williams’ car, and asked him and a passenger in his vehicle to step out.

Body camera footage shows an officer searching Williams, who then struggles to get away. Williams can be heard saying he has heart problems while struggling on the ground before officers tased him again.

Minutes later, Williams is unresponsive. Officers perform CPR, but Williams is later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

“Reasonable police officers would have known that these uses of force, which led to Mr. Williams’ death, were unreasonable and excessive,” the lawsuit said.

Raleigh Police have said Williams was tased three times. But the federal lawsuit filed Monday by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and the group Emancipate NC claims it was six times, including once while Williams was in handcuffs.

“But that’s irrelevant,” said Crump in a press conference Monday. “Because once [Williams] says ‘I have heart problems…’ it is excessive force to tase him again.”

The lawsuit names the city of Raleigh, Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson and the four officers involved in the encounter as defendants.

A police spokesperson said the Raleigh Police Department does not comment on litigation. District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said last summer the officers’ actions did not violate state law, and she would not file charges against them.

This article was originally posted by WUNC.

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