Malik Williams is a 23-year-old Black paraplegic man, who was fatally shot by Federal Way, Washington police on Dec. 31 after officers fired shots at the car he was sitting in. According to KUOW, the Valley Independent Investigations Team released footage from the shooting, where 84 shell casings were found at the scene. Officers claim they were unaware that Williams was a paraplegic until after the shooting when they saw his wheelchair in the backseat of the car, which they said had tinted windows.
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The shooting took place in the parking lot of the Southridge House apartment complex after police came to the scene following a noise complaint. The caller claimed to have heard “a woman yelling, a man’s voice, and the sound of a bang,” per the news release on the incident. After police arrived at the scene, they radioed that they had someone gunpoint, according to the report. Additional officers arrived thereafter, and numerous shots were fired, with two officers being wounded.
“The video, we need that to be released so everybody can see and understand what we are talking about here,” said Marvin Walker, Williams’ biological father, according to NBC affiliate K5. “My son’s hands, clearly, you were able to see them. He made no gestures of pointing any type of weapons or anything at these officers.”
In the video footage that was recently released, multiple officers can be seen approaching Williams, who is sitting in the front passenger seat, along with a woman is also in the car. More officers arrive at the scene, and countless shots are then fired.
The Valley Independent Investigations Team is assisting the King County police department in assessing the details of the shooting. While there were 84 shell casings discovered, the reports says it is unclear how many bullets were fired by the officers involved. Seven officers were placed on administrative leave after firing shots.
Williams’ stepfather, Marvin Phelps, is questioning why so many shots were fired at his stepson. “Why would they shoot 86 times into the car if they did not mean to hurt him? That’s the point I’m trying to figure out. Can they be responsible for that?” he asked.
The Valley Independent Investigations Team said that Williams fired shots at the officers. They also said that a black handgun was at the scene.
André Taylor, founder of Not This Time, which is an organization that focuses on reducing the number of fatal police shootings, argues that this information is not true. “We’re disagreeing with this idea that he had a gun and shot at [police],” he said.
Taylor added that the video footage that has been released and the footage Williams’ family saw last week were not the same. He says that the recently released footage has been edited.
“I’m Amazed that they would try something like this, being that over 30 people have seen this video,” Taylor said. “[Police are] trying to hide something. They’re scared of the truth.”
David Leibman, a spokesperson for the Valley Independent Investigations Team, said he is uncertain about Taylor’s claims and that he needs to speak with Williams’ family to understand what they thought was edited in the footage. He added that the Valley Independent Investigations Team is an independent team who aims to “impartially gather facts and evidence in order to accurately determine what happened.”
Once the team has completed the investigation, Leibman said the findings will then be given to the King County Prosecutor’s Office. However, nothing further can be disclosed until that happens.
Taylor maintains that “everything seems to be covered up.” He also said that only a small portion of the car Williams was sitting in could be seen in the recently released footage. However, in the video he originally saw, two officers were seen interacting with Williams prior to opening fire.
“The video shows no stress or anything going on that would have made an officer feel that he was in danger for 86 shots to be fired into that car,” Taylor said.
*This story was updated to include the employment status of seven officers who fired shots.*
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