Family of man who died in North Carolina police custody addresses his death; police say he was tased 3 times

25 January 2023

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The family of the man who died while in the custody of Raleigh police last week is speaking out.

They joined forces with local activists and an attorney on Tuesday, just one day after the department released its preliminary report into the death of 32-year-old Darryl Williams. 

North Carolina man tased 3 times, told officers of heart problems before dying in custody: report says

In the shadow of a statue of Martin Luther King Junior, Williams’ family and friends gathered to voice their concerns about the Raleigh Police Department, its practices, and its investigation into his death.

“Darryl Williams should not be dead,” said Social Justice Activist Kerwin Pittman.  “[Officers’] initial encounter with Darryl Williams was unwarranted and unjustifiable.”

The department’s investigative report showed that on Jan. 17, officers were “proactively patrolling” businesses along Rock Quarry Road.

When they stopped at William’s car, officers say they instantly spotted drugs and an open container of alcohol. When they tried to arrest him for drug violations, they reported Williams was “combative and resistant” and ran away from officers.

Two officers deployed their Tasers a total of five times, three of those making impact on Williams’ body.

The third came moments after Williams told police “I have heart problems,” according to the preliminary investigative report.

Mother identifies man who died in North Carolina police custody

“Why, when Mr. Williams expressed he had heart conditions, why did they still choose to tase this man again?” asked Pittman. 

The report showed Williams became unresponsive less than six minutes after he was put into handcuffs.

The group believes the initial report is insufficient and incomplete.

“We just want answers. We just want answers as to why this happened to Darryl,” said family friend, Davelle Madden, who was speaking on behalf of Williams’ mother. “The answers will not completely heal her heart, but it will give her a little resolve, a little bit of peace.” 

See the full press conference video below.

“How long was Mr. Williams tased? That wasn’t in the report. Their policy dictates they can only do five-second cycles. So how long was he tased?” added Pittman. “Why were they trying to tase Mr. Williams as he was running away?” 

Family and activists didn’t just ask for more answers to their questions. They also called for the department to stop their proactive patrolling, believing Williams would not have died if it weren’t for their police practices.

“Proactive patrolling is nothing more than racial profiling in marginalized communities,” said Pittman. “This is a violation of civil rights.” 

Police wrote in their report that the area where Williams was approached by officers, by the Supreme Sweepstakes, “has a history of repeat calls for service for drugs, weapons, and criminal violations.”

Officers noted they found additional drugs and two firearms—one of which had been reported stolen—in Williams’ car. 

At the time of his death, Williams was out on parole from previous drug charges.

“It doesn’t matter what police found in his car. It doesn’t matter what he’s done in the past…what matters is that night, he was bothering no one,” said Dawn Blagrove, an attorney with Emancipate NC. 

She and the rest of the activists are now insisting the department take an even harder look at William’s death. They want all of the officers involved to be terminated. 

6 officers placed on leave after person in custody dies outside sweepstakes parlor; police chief says Taser was used

“Our second demand is that these men be brought up on charges for murder,” said Blagrove. 

She also added they want special prosecution to come in to try these officers, and for each officer in the force to begin carrying their own liability insurance.

The group also wants Williams’ death to prompt major changes to the way the Raleigh Police Department operates. 

“We need the immediate cease and desist of any proactive policing,” explained Blagrove. “We also demand that until Raleigh Police Department officers have proven that they understand their own policies on Tasers, that all Tasers be removed from officers.” 

CBS 17 reached out to the Raleigh Police Department for comment on these demands, and to check on the status of the release of the body camera and dash-camera footage.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, there has not been a response. 

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