The wife of a Black man who was shot and killed by police on New Year’s Eve is demanding justice. Just moments after ringing in the New Year (Jan. 1) in Canton, Ohio; 46-year-old James “Roe” Williams was fatally shot by police.
His wife Marquetta Williams told the Canton Repository that minutes earlier, he had been firing off celebratory gunshots into the air from their backyard to mark the new year, a tradition in their neighborhood.
“My husband and I both went out there to shoot guns in the air like everybody does to celebrate,” she told the outlet.
Roe fired four shots into the air with his AR-15 rifle, she said, and then turned to follow his wife back into their house. However, bullets suddenly pierced through their fence, she said, striking Roe.
“Out of the blue, he said he got shot, he got hit,” Marquetta recalled. “I don’t know where it came from. Nobody said anything. They didn’t say, ‘Police.’ They didn’t say, ‘Freeze.’ They didn’t say, ‘Drop your weapon.’ They just shot him. I could see the blood splattering across his shirt. He collapsed in the living room.”
Marquetta told the outlet that police fired through their 6-foot-tall wooden privacy fence and maintained that Roe was not pointing his gun at authorities, nor did he even know they were on the other side.
After he was hit, Marquetta called 911 to request an ambulance but was instead met with “30-something officers with guns pointing at us, telling us to get down and come out of the house with our hands up.”
Roe was treated by paramedics at his home and later taken to the Aultman Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
In a press statement, Canton Police Department claimed that the “officer, who was outside of his vehicle, confronted a subject that began shooting a firearm.”
The department further said that the unnamed officer, “in fear for his safety, fired his duty weapon at the subject and struck him.”
However, body camera footage from the shooting released on Saturday (Jan. 8) showed that the officer did shoot Roe through the couple’s fence, as Marquetta claims. In the footage, an officer can be heard yelling, “Police” after the shots were fired through the fence.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting and the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave.