Following the release of additional bodycam footage showing the last moments of Matthew Zadok Williams, a 35-year-old Georgia man who was fatally shot by police on April 12, his family is again refuting claims that officers acted lawfully in the moments leading up to and following his death.
“We’re living in a nightmare,” said Williams’ sister, Hahnah. “Never would I have thought that my brother would be a hashtag,” she said.
Williams’ sister’s statement comes after the family met with DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston on Wednesday morning, urging for transparency and accountability. They believe he was suffering from a mental health crisis and was falsely identified as a dangerous, homeless person prior to officers responding to the scene.
“We are very hopeful after our meeting with Sherry Boston and we really appreciate her taking this meeting with us…but our family wants justice,” Hahnah continued.
“He was murdered. We want to be clear about that and we want justice.”
Police say they encountered Williams while they were responding to an emergency call about a homeless man who was walking around “aggressively wielding a knife,” near Terrace Trial. Officers claim that Williams lunged at the officers prior to them firing at Williams in his home. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation.
Williams’ family says they believe police acted negligently and did not offer medical aid to Williams as he laid on the ground bleeding.
“These folks were hired and paid for by this man’s tax dollars,” Williams’ family attorney Mawuli Davis, said on Wednesday.
“And they’re laughing about the possibility of him bleeding out and they do nothing,” he continued.
“We’re asking for you take a look at this,” Davis directed to the journalists. “It is more than what was initially presented and when you see it in its entirety you’ll understand and I believe that you’ll come to the same conclusion that I have come to, that this was nothing short of murder. They shot because they just shot. And then they left him. and they knew that them leaving him would result in him bleeding out. They knew that. They contemplated it. They articulated it and that is what happened,” he continued.
Williams’ mother who worked as a trauma nurse believes her son’s death was preventable had the officers acted within enough time.
“They are so easily survivable, but they shot my son and didn’t really care,” she said. “He should be alive getting out of the hospital right now. It was not a fatal wound. But they allowed him to lay on that floor and bleed to death and suffer, struggling for air.”
“His life meant nothing to them,” she later said. “His life meant everything to us.”
Davis said the family will hire private investigators to look into the case and hailed the release of the videos as a victory differentiating from standard procedure, where body cam footage is held until the investigation concludes.
The family previously launched a Color of Change petition which has brought national attention to the case.