Family blames Taser use for loved one’s death

08/11/2014 9:56 PM

08/11/2014 9:57 PM

Relatives of a Harnett County man think the Smithfield Police Department’s use of a Taser contributed to his death.

But Lt. Keith Powell, spokesman for the police department, said drugs in the man’s system led to the death of Rondrickquiz Kentral Williams, 28.

The department is reviewing the incident on July 22 and will report its findings to Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle, Powell said.

At around 9 a.m. on July 22, police responded to a disturbance at McDonald’s on West Market Street, Powell said.

Williams had taken a cane from a diner and was hitting people with it, Powell said. Family members said doctors told them that Williams was high on cocaine and likely bath salts.

Smithfield Police Officer Skyler Reeve, the first officer on the scene, tried to subdue Williams but could not, Powell said. Reeve then used his Taser on Williams three times without effect, Powell said.

Eventually, with the help of pepper spray, Reeve, four other officers and a bystander were able to subdue Williams, Powell said.

An ambulance arrived and took a still-agitated Williams to Johnston Medical Center in Smithfield, Powell said. “At some point they calmed him down enough that he told them who he was,” Powell said. “We had no clue who he was nor why he was doing what he was doing when we got to McDonald’s.”

Soon after arriving at the hospital, Williams became critically ill, said Powell, who blamed the drugs, not the Taser. He suggested any harm from a Taser would have been more immediate,

“It was a right good time after he was tased that his medical condition declined,” Powell said.

Williams was transferred to WakeMed in Raleigh. His aunt, Celestine Williams, said he was suffering from kidney and liver failure and had almost no brain activity. He was in a coma until he died Aug. 5. Celestine Williams said doctors were taking him for an MRI when his heart stopped.

Celestine Williams said a doctor told her police used a Taser on her nephew five times, not three.

Williams’ mother, Veronica Williams, said she wants an outside investigation into her son’s death. She thinks excessive Taser use, in combination with drug use, led to his death.

Veronica Williams is also upset because police wouldn’t let her see her son while he was at the Smithfield hospital. “That’s what I couldn’t figure out,” she said. “They didn't want us to see him. We didn’t have a choice.”

Powell cited hospital policy in keeping visitors away.

Williams’ girlfriend, Takia Williams, also wants an outside investigation. “I understand that he may have been hard to detain, but I also feel like it is not right for you to tase someone five times,” she said.

“I really just want justice from them,” Takia Williams said. “I just want justice for Rondrickquiz. It’s not right.”

The family is awaiting autopsy results. Meanwhile, Smithfield police are reviewing security camera footage of the incident. Powell said he couldn’t release the footage because it’s part of an ongoing investigation. The district attorney’s office will decide later whether to release it, he said.

Under Smithfield policy, police can tase someone up to three times. “If the subject is not subdued after three cycles, other courses of action should be considered,” the policy states.

Family members said Williams, who lived in Dunn, leaves behind six children: Janiyah Mathis, 7, Iona Matthews, 4, twins Rondarius and Kentarius Williams, 3, Rondrickquiz Williams Jr., 3, and Razia Williams, eight months.

Takia Williams said he was a caring father who spent much of his time with their three children.

Rondrickquiz Williams had a history of run-ins with the law, including convictions for selling drugs in 2004, 2007 and 2009. Takia Williams said he had kicked a drug addiction previously but had begun to use drugs again occasionally. He was wanted in Harnett County for an armed robbery in 2013.

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