Police shooting deemed justified

Published 3:52 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

By By Adam Prestridge
The Office of State Attorney, 1st Judicial Circuit of Florida, recently issued a report determining the shooting death of 33-year-old Danny Williams by an Atmore Police Department officer last May in Walnut Hill, Fla. was justified.
In the report, issued by State Attorney William “Bill” Eddins three “key” state statutes were referenced as they pertain to the shooting death of Williams.
The first, Section 941.31.Fla.Stat. (2009) reads as follows:
The statute referred back to the findings issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which performed the investigation, stating that Atmore officers attempted to stop the white Nissan Altima Williams was driving under suspicion that it was involved in a call the police department had received in the early morning hours of May 24, 2009. Officers began pursuit of the vehicle in the area of Ashley Street and Carver Avenue, near the location of a shots fired call, after seeing it travel at high speeds and run a stop sign.
A release issued, states officers attempted to pull Williams over to no avail and he led them on pursuit at high rates of speed, running stop signs that eventually led across the Florida state line on Hwy. 97 south into Florida.
The second statute, Fla. Stat. 776.05 (2009) reads as follows:
The initial report stated that Williams turned east on Hwy. 164 and then north towards Gobbler Road, then got back on Hwy. 97 heading south and crossing into the northbound lane in a reported apparent attempt to hit an Atmore police unit head on.
This caused the police vehicle to leave the roadway and head into a field where it got stuck.
Williams then made a U-turn and backed into a wheat field south of this location, where his vehicle also became stuck.
According to the initial release, two other Atmore officers also in pursuit of the vehicle thought the vehicle had ended the pursuit and exited their vehicles approaching Williams and his passenger, an adult male, with weapons drawn.
Both men were ordered to raise their hands and the passenger immediately complied. The officers at the scene said the passenger pleaded with Williams to follow the officers’ orders.
The release states that when the officers repeated their orders, Williams turned the vehicle towards the lead officer and drove towards him, causing the lead officer to fall back to avoid being hit. Williams then turned the vehicle towards the second officer who fired shots. The lead officer also fired shots towards the back of the vehicle after getting back on his feet.
Williams then got back on Hwy. 97 and traveled north towards where the other patrol unit was stuck. Williams too left the roadway and became stuck in the same field.
The final statute reads:
Fla. Stat. 776.06 (1) (b) (2009) defines “deadly force” to include “ the firing of a firearm at a vehicle in which the person to be arrest is riding.”
Three Atmore Police officers were later placed on administrative leave and Williams died at the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile from a gunshot wound to the head.
The report conclude, “Therefore, it is in the opinion of the Office of State Attorney, the Atmore, Alabama police officers were justified in using deadly force against Mr. Danny Williams.”

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