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Family of Darryl Williams says autopsy suggests Raleigh officers should be charged

Darryl Williams' mother, Sonya Williams (second from left) holds the hand of civil rights attorney Ben Crump at a press conference June 9, 2023, in Raleigh
Will Michaels
Darryl Williams' mother, Sonya Williams (second from left) holds the hand of civil rights attorney Ben Crump at a press conference on June 9, 2023, in Raleigh, N.C.

The family of an unarmed Black man who died in Raleigh police custody earlier this year is renewing calls to bring charges against the officers involved.

Darryl Tyree Williams, 32, died in January. Body camera footage shows officers approaching Williams' car, asking him to step out, and searching him. Police say Williams then tried to run, resisted arrest, and was tased. Williams tells the officers he has heart problems before he's tased two more times, and becomes unresponsive.

An autopsy report released this week confirms Williams had a history of heart disease. It lists his cause of death as sudden cardiac arrest related to cocaine intoxication, the use of an electrified weapon and physical restraint.

In southeast Raleigh on Friday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump said the report suggests charges are warranted.

"This is an opportunity to wash the blood of Darryl Tyree Williams off their hands by charging these officers and sending a clear message that this is not allowed in Raleigh, North Carolina," Crump said.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has said she's reviewing the incident, but has not yet said whether she will charge the six officers involved, who were placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Attorney Dawn Blagrove of the group Emancipate NC did not specify which charges she believed would be appropriate for the officers, but said they should be held accountable.

"We need District Attorney Freeman to start at the beginning, not take shortcuts, really do the hard, objective work that the people elected her to do, and bring the charges that are warranted," Blagrove said.

It's not clear when Freeman will announce a decision on whether to charge the officers.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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