Vigil marks 1 year since Darryl Williams died in Raleigh Police custody

Sydnee Scofield Image
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Vigil marks 1 year since Darryl Williams died in police custody
Family, friends, and community activists came together Wednesday night to honor the life of Darryl Williams.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Family, friends, and community activists came together Wednesday night to honor the life of Darryl Williams, and to continue to remind officials in Raleigh that they don't believe justice was served for his death.

Williams died in custody one year ago after an altercation with police.

The vigil was held in the parking lot on Rock Quarry Road, where the altercation took place. Roughly 50 people prayed, chanted, and released balloons to honor Williams.

ABC11 spoke with his mother, Sonya Williams, who affectionately called him "Boo Boo".

"He was just a very outgoing, outspoken person. He loved his family, you know, he'd give you anything you want," she said. "Just a good all-around person and he's truly missed."

She said she misses Sunday night dinners with him the most. She said he came every Sunday and loved her macaroni and cheese.

His sister, Arviette Williams, was also in attendance, she misses his phone calls the most.

"He was the life of the party. He loved cracking jokes, just like his dad," Arviette said. "He loved his family. He loved me. I loved him. He's really going to be missed."

Activists spoke during the vigil about feeling like justice was not served for the death of Darryl Williams, saying that they're planning to sue to hold the officers accountable for his death after District Attorney Lorrin Freeman declined to file criminal charges against them.

Back on January 17, 2023, Raleigh Police approached a car in the parking lot of closed businesses at 808 Rock Quarry Road. They said they frequently respond to calls in that area and decided to check on the vehicle. Inside, they found Darryl Williams and a passenger, who voluntarily opened their car doors for police.

The officers reported seeing a bag of marijuana in the car, and they asked both men to step outside. When police tried to pat Williams down, police said he repeatedly failed to follow law enforcement commands, and would not put his hands on the roof of the car.

During the pat down, police found a substance that appeared to be cocaine inside a folded dollar bill. At that point, Williams broke away from police and started running.

ALSO SEE: Tensions explode at bond hearing in Hoke County murder case as victim's family grieves

The report mentions the size disparity between Williams and the officers, mentioning that Williams had a considerable advantage being approximately six feet tall and weighing 311 pounds.

While trying to get away, reports from the District Attorney show that he fought with police, who ultimately tased him four times trying to get him to comply and take him into custody. During the altercation, he can be heard yelling that he had heart problems on released body camera footage. Officers tased him a final time after he told them about his heart condition.

A report summarizing the events from the District Attorney states that the officers didn't hear him say he had a heart condition, and that "there is no way to substantiate whether they did in fact hear Mr. Williams."

After putting cuffs on Williams, officers noticed that he no longer had a pulse. They started performing CPR on Williams, but he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The autopsy report shows that Williams died in part from being tased, but cocaine intoxication, an enlarged heart, and significant physical exertion also contributed to his death.

When police searched Williams' car, they found marijuana and "other suspect controlled substances." They also found two firearms, including one that had been reported stolen.

The District Attorney wrote in her report that Williams may have decided to resist arrest and try to run because he was on probation for "felony maintaining a dwelling with intent to sell and deliver controlled substances". The drug and firearm possession would have been a violation of his parole.

The DA ultimately cleared the officers involved of any criminal wrongdoing, although she doesn't have the authority to decide whether police policy was violated during the encounter.

ABC11 reached out to Raleigh Police to find out if the officers violated policy during the incident with Williams, or if any officers faced any discipline or consequences internally following Wiliams' death. We also asked if there were any modifications to police policies or procedures after this incident. We have not heard back.

Emancipate NC Executive Director Dawn Blagrove confirmed to ABC11 that they are working with Williams' family to file a lawsuit against Raleigh Police in the next two months.