Family of Darryl Tyree Williams Files Lawsuit Against Raleigh Authorities

Jordan Meadows, Staff Writer

The family of Darryl Tyree Williams has initiated legal proceedings through a federal lawsuit against the city of Raleigh, the police chief, and five police officers. This action, unveiled during a press conference held in Raleigh on Monday, aims to secure justice for Williams’ untimely death and scrutinizes the conduct of law enforcement personnel involved.

Williams died while under the custody of the Raleigh Police Department on January 17, 2023. According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, his death was deemed a homicide, attributed to sudden cardiac arrest aggravated by cocaine intoxication, physical exertion, the use of conducted energy weapons, and physical restraint.

Representing Williams’ family, civil rights attorney Ben Crump filed the wrongful death lawsuit seeking $25 million in damages.

“He was no threat to the Raleigh police officers that night who chased him after they racially profiled him… they profiled the entire black community that night,” Crump said. “The Raleigh Police Department showed no humanity to Darryl Tyree Williams. Black man on the ground, saying ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘I have heart problems’, and what does the police officer do – he tased him again,” Crump said.

Raleigh police said officers approached Williams in his car while carrying out what the department calls “proactive patrolling,” a policy that assigns more officers to areas in which residents repeatedly report crimes or other concerns.

The lawsuit claims the department’s “culture of violence disregard for clearly-established Fourth Circuit law resulted in the unnecessary and wrongful death of a human being, Darryl Tyree Williams.” 

In their preliminary report, Raleigh police claimed their officers used a stun gun on Williams three times. The lawsuit, however, says a stun gun was used on Williams six times – three while physically restrained and the last while he was handcuffed.

Williams reportedly informed the police of his heart condition, yet officers continued to use the stun gun on him. The discrepancy between the number of times Williams was stunned, as stated by the Raleigh Police Department and as alleged in the lawsuit, underscores the contentious nature of the case.

According to Crump, this apparent discrepancy isn’t meaningful: “The state agrees with Sonya Williams’ lawsuit that it was six times, but that’s irrelevant because once he says, ‘I have heart problems, I can’t breathe,’ it is excessive force to tase him again!”

Attorney Dawn Blagrove with Emancipate NC expressed concerns over the city’s negligence, stating, “There’s no doubt the city of Raleigh has turned a blind eye to negligence over and over again.” 

“This is a lawsuit that claims strongly, with evidence to support it, that excessive force was used in this case, that Darryl Williams was murdered to the level that we believe solidly proves a wrongful death claim,” Blagrove said.

Sonya Williams, mother of Darryl Tyree Williams, contended that despite her son’s disclosure of his heart condition to the officers, they persisted in their use of force. “I want justice,” Sonya Williams said.

The press conference convened at Mount Peace Baptist Church, drawing a modest audience, including a handful of supporters brandishing signs reading, “His Life Matters” and “Proactive Patrol = Community Harassment.”

Approximately 10 individuals from Williams’ circle of family and friends accompanied the attorneys on stage during the announcement of the lawsuit.

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