“At first it looked like there were a couple different explanations of what had happened” that led to Mr. Williams’ death in the early morning hours of May 6, said Mr. Martin, interim director of the American Civil Liberties Union in West Virginia.
“And [later] I thought it was kind of interesting that none of the law enforcement officers had their dash cameras on” in their squad cars, he said. “To us, that was the most interesting part.”
The interest was enough that Mr. Martin said Monday that the ACLU has filed a state Freedom of Information Act request for information about the case with the Weirton police and West Virginia State Police to take a closer look at how the death occurred.
This is the first time that the ACLU of West Virginia has become involved in a police shooting in the state, he said, but it’s only because of timing, not anything the ACLU thinks may or may not have occurred in Mr. Williams’ case.
“This is just the most recent case,” he said. “And given the national conversation on [police shootings], we just felt it was time to act.”
He said the ACLU asked for all records related to the shooting investigation but also focused part of the request on training records for the three officers involved.
“We want to make sure police are following proper procedures,” he said.
Mr. Martin said he received an initial response from the departments asking for a typical extension of time to respond to Aug. 8.
The two had argued that night and one of the three police officers who responded to the domestic disturbance call fired four shots at Mr. Williams, one of them hitting him in the head, killing him instantly.
Jack Dolance, a civil attorney representing Mr. Williams’ family, said he welcomed the ACLU’s involvement.
“I was happy to see them involved,” he said. “I think we have the same interests and the ACLU has a long established history of holding governmental entities accountable.”
Sean D. Hamill: email@example.com or 412-263-2579 or Twitter: @SeanDHamill