(FinalCall.com) – The death of Frederick Williams in May last year, from being tased while in Gwinett County police custody, shocked his family and the community. The only solace was the District Attorney’s promise, according to family lawyer Melvin Johnson, that he would bring charges against the officers involved.
One year later, those charges have yet to be filed and Danny Porter, the DA in question, has reneged on that promise.
“The police tortured and killed Mr. Williams,” Mr. Johnson told The Final Call. “Mr. Porter told me that he would bring charges against the officers involved, but he was too busy at the time. He gave me a timeline on bringing charges and now he doesn’t want to do it. He told me that now he doesn’t believe the officers had mal intent to injure Mr. Williams and he’s no longer bringing charges against officers. We have to get this case before politicians, the governor and Congress, who have the ability to appoint an independent counsel.”
The date is May 25, 2004. The Williams family is at home watching the “Oprah” show. Mr. Williams begins to have an epilepsy seizure. “The type of seizure that he had experienced would either make him fall, jerk, weak or delusional. This particular day, he became delusional,” explained Mr. Johnson. “He started talking about devils taking his money, planning to kill him and destroy his family. In his delusional state, Mr. Williams began to implicate his wife in the plot. He became angry with her and chased her around the house. Scared and confused, Mrs. Williams runs out of the house with their children, ages 1-9.”
Mr. Williams stands in the front yard and continues his delusional state. His 9-year-old son calls 911 and explains that his father is sick and did not take his medicine. The son pleads with 911 to send a “the truck with the medicine.” Mrs. Williams then calls 911 and reiterates her husband’s medical condition.
Moments later, the first officer arrives. Mrs. Williams and a deacon from her church explain that Mr. Williams needs his medication.
The officer begins to shout at Mr. Williams to quiet down and get back in the house. The officer then strikes Mr. Williams two or three times. A scuffle ensues and the officer receives an abrasion to his nose. The officer pulls his gun and calls for backup, radioing “officer down.”
Fifteen to 20 police cars come from the City of Lawrenceville and the Sheriff’s Department of Gwinnett County. An ambulance arrives and treats the injured police officer, not Mr. Williams who is seen being carried off to jail.
There is a video of what happens next.
“It shows approximately 10 officers carrying a screaming and pleading Mr. Williams into a cell. Mr. Williams pleads with the police not to kill him. The angry officers place Mr. Williams, who is fully restrained, into a chair. Mr. Williams is repeatedly shocked with a stun gun. In fact, he is shocked five times in approximately 45 seconds. Mr. Williams collapses and is eventually transported to a local hospital, where he dies two days later,” Mr. Johnson recounts.
Last April, Mr. Porter took the case to a grand jury. However, the grand jury only viewed evidence from the medical examiner and police reports. They did not view the videotape, which includes an unidentified officer saying, “I told those guys (the police) not to use this (the stun gun) on him.” With limited information on the case, the grand jury did not hand down any indictments in the case.
This has upset the community and has the local Southern Christian Leadership Council calling for protests.
“I want him to say that he’s gonna do what is right, what he’s elected to do as D.A. and to present the facts and the evidence. We’re saying they have not been presented and that’s all that we’re asking,” SCLC President Charles Steele said to reporters before a meeting with Mr. Porter June 7th. “We’re not going to take this behavior. It is racism.”
When Mr. Porter met with the local NAACP, according to local news reports, he told them that he is considering convening a special grand jury to see the videotape.
Mr. Porter defends his stance in this case. He told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “The grand jury has the power to decide what they see and what they don’t see. There is no legal mechanism to compel them to see what they don’t want to see.”
The videotape, he added, is only a small snippet of the reams of evidence involved in the investigation. “The tape doesn’t tell the tale. You have to take the whole investigation as a whole.”
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, if Mr. Porter decides that a special grand jury should re-hear the case, it will require a petition and a vote by Superior Court judges in the county. Mr. Porter could also wait for the county’s next regular grand jury panel to hear the case in September.