On Thursday (February 20), police in Federal Way, Washington released video of the police shooting of 23-year-old Malik Williams, who died in the early morning hours of December 31.
Investigators with the Valley Independent Police, say a caller reported the sounds of a woman screaming outside of an apartment complex in Federal Way. The caller also heard a man’s voice and the sound of a bang, all associated with a car in the parking lot.
When officers arrived at 12:17 a.m., it appears they approached the car and interacted with the people inside. Investigators say they did not obey orders.
Subsequently, the interaction escalated quickly and eventually, officers radioed that they had a person at gunpoint and called for backup.
Another radio call was then dispatched claiming shots were fired and two officers were wounded. They shot back, killing williams.
Investigators say a witness heard police yelling “drop the gun” several times before hearing gunfire.
“We don’t have any reason to believe based on what we’ve seen so far, that it’s an unjustified use of force,” Commander Dave Liebman of the Renton Police Department said, according to Q13 Fox. “But what we do need to find out, because there were a number of rounds that were fired that evening, is who fired which rounds out of which guns. For us to know for sure, we need to wait for the results of the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.”
According to investigators, a 9 mm handgun was found in the car. It wasn’t until later when investigators learned that Williams used a wheelchair for mobility. The wheelchair was in the backseat with the wheel removed, police said. The windows of the car were tinted and the chair was visible to the officers, according to investigators.
Williams’ family wants to hold police accountable for their actions.
“What was the call for? Noise, disturbance. So why do you have to come at gunpoint? For what reason? Just for a dispute,” Contessa Williams, Malik’s mother, said.
Not This Time, an organization that aims to reduce fatal police shootings and change the laws that govern the use of force, stands by the family.
“86 shots into a car with a man who was paraplegic,” said Andre Taylor, founder of Not This Time. “This is disastrous, and there is no way our community is going to continue to accept the lawlessness of law enforcement officers not de-escalating. We’re not gonna stand for it anymore.”
Police are still waiting for forensic results from the Washington state crime lab.