Darryl Williams died last week after being tased multiple times by Raleigh police officers, according to a preliminary report.
The five-day report, released by the Raleigh Police Department, recounts a tragic incident in which officers repeatedly tried to subdue Williams, faced resistance, and ultimately turned to their tasers to overpower and handcuff him.
It also mirrors dozens of stories Black residents have about encounters with police, in which they were “minding their own business” only to be suddenly confronted by officers for little or no reason.
At one point, officers tased Williams, 32, twice in less than a minute, placing their tasers on the skin of his body. Williams was heard on a body-worn camera saying, “I have heart problems,” the report stated.
In a press conference Tuesday, Emancipate NC leaders, joined by Williams’ mother Sonya, condemned the Raleigh Police Department for the incident, calling the police report “propaganda” and saying it unfairly vilifies Williams.
“This report is designed to malign the victim, to malign the murder victim,” said Dawn Blagrove, executive director of Emancipate NC. “It doesn’t matter what they found in his car. What matters is that on that night, he was bothering no one. He was minding his own business.”
Williams was arrested on January 17 during a late-night patrol of the 800 block of Rock Quarry Road, a location with “a history of repeat calls for service for drugs, weapons, and other criminal violations,” the police report stated.
During the patrol, two officers—C.D. Robinson and J.T. Thomas—found Williams and another person in Williams’ black Mercedes, which was parked in front of a Supreme Sweepstakes parlor.
As Williams opened the passenger side door, officers saw “an open container of alcohol and marijuana in the car,” the report stated.
Upon detaining and searching Williams, officers found “a folded dollar bill in Mr. Williams’ pocket containing a white powdery substance consistent with the appearance of cocaine,” the report went on.
The RPD has not yet released confirmation that the substance was, in fact, cocaine.
As two more police officers arrived on the scene—D.L. Aquino and J.R. Scott—police attempted to arrest Williams, but he “became combative and resistant,” the report stated.
Officers told Williams to place his hands behind his back, and warned him to “Stop or you are going to get tased.” According to the report, Williams tried to flee the scene on foot before officers caught up with him.
Another two officers then arrived—D.L. Grande and B.L. Ramge—and assisted in an effort to arrest Williams. In the course of the entire confrontation, Williams was tased three times, twice by Robinson and once by Thomas.
Williams was handcuffed around 2 a.m. and placed in an RPD vehicle in the recovery position. Shortly afterward, Williams stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating. RPD officers called EMS at 2:02 a.m., as they’re required to do after using a taser, and again at 2:06 a.m., after officers started CPR.
Williams was later pronounced dead at 3:01 a.m. after being transported to a local hospital, despite police and EMS attempting CPR and other resuscitation measures.
During Tuesday’s news conference, Blagrove and local activist Kerwin Pittman each compared this “preventative policing,” or “proactive patrolling” to stop-and-frisk, a practice that disproportionally targets Black Americans.
Emancipate NC argues that proactive patrolling is a remnant of the Jim Crow era, and that it encourages “harassing Black people for simply being in their own communities.”
“Proactive patrolling is racial profiling of marginalized communities,” Pittman said, adding that it mostly happens in Southeast Raleigh, which is majority Black. “It is finding an excuse when there is no excuse [other than] to stop minorities … Nothing more.”
The six officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave (which typically includes pay), per Raleigh police policy. The confrontation was captured by body-worn cameras as well as dash cameras, which the department plans to release.
Officials are conducting an autopsy to determine the official cause of Williams’ death.
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