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Family, activists demand accountability after death of Darryl Williams

Social justice activists and family and community members stand during a press conference Jan. 24 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens in Raleigh. Kerwin Pittman (center) with Emancipate NC led the conversation. To his right stands the mother of Darryl Williams.
Celeste Gracia
Social justice activists stand with family and community members during a press conference on Jan. 24, 2023 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens in Raleigh. Kerwin Pittman (center) with Emancipate NC led the conversation. To his right with a yellow shirt stands the mother of Darryl Williams.

Social justice activists and community and family members are demanding accountability after Darryl Tyree Williams, 32, died last Tuesday while in police custody.

"A piece of our hearts has been taken from us," said Davelle Madden, who spoke on behalf of the Williams family. "We appreciate everyone and their support, [but] we just want answers."

Williams died after officers with the Raleigh Police Department (RPD) tased him at least three times, according to a five-day report issued Monday. Officers said they were arresting Williams for possession of a controlled substance when he resisted the arrest. According to the report, officers warned him they would use their tasers if he did not stop resisting. When he continued to resist, tasers were deployed.

Kerwin Pittman, a social justice activist with Emancipate NC, outlined lingering questions during a press conference Tuesday morning at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens in Raleigh.

"How long was Mr. Williams tased? Why [were the officers] trying to tase Mr. Williams as he was running away?" said Pittman. "Mr. Williams expressed he had heart conditions. They still chose to tase this man again. Why wasn't this taken into consideration?"

According to the five-day report from RPD, Williams told officers "I have heart problems."

Attorney and Executive Director of Emancipate NC Dawn Blagrove shared a list of demands for RPD, including that the officers involved in this incident are fired and charged with murder, that RPD stops using tasers, and that a special outside prosecutor is appointed to investigate and ultimately try these cases.

"We stand here before you with demands that are not utopian. They are real, they are tangible, and they can be achieved," said Blagrove. "Black folks in southeast Raleigh can be safe, and they deserve that."

The six officers involved in the arrest are on administrative leave. The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a probe, and the Detective Division and the Internal Affairs Unit of RPD are also investigating. RPD is seeking a judge's permission to release body camera and dash camera video from patrol cars.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.
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