The family of a Georgia man who was shot and killed by Black police officers in April demand transparency and accountability in the ongoing investigation into his death.
On April 12, 35-year-old Matthew Zadok Williams, a Decatur resident, was shot and killed by DeKalb County police inside of his home. Police were called to Williams’ residence after a neighbor falsely claimed he was attempting to burglarize his own home.
Released body cam footage shows Williams and the officers interactions prior to his death.
“Hey what’s up, man? What are you doing around here? You live here?” an officer says to Williams on camera.
Williams then lunges at an officer with a knife, and one officer returns with firing his weapon at Williams before he escapes inside of his home.
“I’m begging you. You’re a Black man. I’m a Black man. You don’t have to die today. I don’t want you to die today,” says one of the officers through the front door. The officer is identified by his last name Perry. “I’m defending my property,” Williams says in response.
“Let me see (the knife) drop. I can get you an ambulance out here. We can talk about this,” Perry continues. “This is my property,” Williams says.
Police claim Williams lunged at officers again prompting an officer to fire three shots inside of the home.
Williams family maintains he was experiencing a mental health crisis and listed a series of demands in order to better facilitate relationships between Williams’ family and investigators. His family contends that once police arrived and reviewed Williams’ state, they should have called for a mental health advocate to intervene.
“Immediately release ALL media related to the murder of Matthew ‘Zadok’ Williams,” his sister, Hahnah advocates in a Color of Change campaign addressed to law enforcement officials. “This includes but is not limited to 911 call recordings, transcripts, and medical examiner reports.”
Williams also calls for the termination of the involved officers, along with the release of their full names and employment records. She contends that Williams was kneeling behind furniture inside of his home when he was shot.
“Such an egregious disregard for my brother’s life speaks to the culture of policing in DeKalb County and across the country,” Williams continues. “Police officers are rarely held accountable for killing, harassing and assaulting Black people and my family is committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that these officers are held accountable and that other families in DeKalb County don’t have to endure what we have had to go through.”
Williams also writes that her brother was offered little humanity during his death once officers kicked down the door, and was not administered aid in a timely fashion which could have saved his life.
A private autopsy report orchestrated by Williams’ family found that he slowly bled out, leaving his pulse at a slow rate. His body laid inside of the home for an hour before it was removed and his family was not notified of his death until 24 hours later.
Reportedly all of the involved officers have not been fired or charged, but law enforcement officials told 11 Alive that two investigations are underway.
Police maintain that under the circumstances, the officers acted justly.
Williams’s family described him as a fun loving youngest sibling of six children who enjoyed spending time with his nieces and trading stocks.