NYPD Punched, Kicked, Fatally Shot This Black Man in 2019—and Still Won’t Say Why

November 24, 2020
Pilar Melendez
Daily Beast

Antonio Williams was waiting for a cab one night in 2019 when a slew of NYPD officers chased, kicked, and punched him in the head, before fatally shooting him and letting him bleed out for five minutes. And they still won’t reveal why they approached the 27-year-old in the first place, according to a lawsuit and new footage released by his family.

“Nothing can bring Antonio back, but over a year later... we have had zero answers and zero accountability and that needs to happen,” his sister, Nicole Williams, said during a Tuesday press conference announcing the lawsuit against the city and NYPD.

The lawsuit, filed in Bronx Supreme Court, states Williams was standing on a Bronx street after watching a boxing match with friends on Sept. 29, 2019, when members of the NYPD’s anti-crime unit “drove up onto the sidewalk” in an unmarked car and began to yell at the father-of-two.

Out of fear, Williams began to run—a response the lawsuit stresses is within his legal rights since the officers had no suspicion of any crime. A second group of cops joined the chase, tackling and punching Williams repeatedly. It ended with six officers firing their guns, fatally striking both Williams and police officer Brian Mulkeen.

The NYPD has never explained why Williams was approached or what led to the escalated use-of-force—a lack of transparency his family says proves the NYPD recklessly killed him and Mulkeen.

“Antonio was just standing on the street, waiting for a cab when plainclothes NYPD officers jumped out at him in the middle of the night, chased him, beat him, and gunned him down in a hail of at least 15 bullets,” Shawn and Gladys Williams, the 27-year-old’s father and stepmother, told The Daily Beast.

“We filed this lawsuit and are fighting for justice because being a Black man standing on the street should not be seen as a crime and Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD are treating the murder of our son as something they can just shove under a rug. Antonio was a loving son, father, brother, and friend. We should be celebrating the holidays with him instead of filing lawsuits and fighting to ensure these dangerous officers are fired.”

The family released new footage of the incident Tuesday, showing officers surrounding Williams and punching him at least eight times in the head next to a tree. It also shows them handcuffing Williams after the shootout, then standing around him for about five minutes before administering CPR. The suit demands a jury trial and terminations for the officers involved.

David Rankin, an attorney for the family, said Tuesday that hitting someone on the head is not an effective strategy if you’re trying to handcuff them.

“These are completely unnecessary head punches. Then you see an officer jump up and appear to fire a weapon,” he said.

In total, 15 shots were fired. According to the lawsuit, the officers then chose to provide immediate aid to Mulkeen, leaving Williams in pain and “unreasonably delayed providing him emergency medical treatment.”

The NYPD previously alleged that Williams had reached for Mulkeen’s gun, which prompted it to discharge. In an edited video of the incident released in December 2019, Mulkeen can be heard shouting, “He’s reaching for it—he’s reaching for it!” But the family dispute allegations Williams was reaching for a gun and no weapons belonging to the 27-year-old were found at the scene.

The newly released footage shows that, after shooting him, officers still put Williams in handcuffs even though he doesn’t appear to be moving.

“There is zero reasons, one, that you would be performing CPR on someone who is handcuffed because that would make the CPR ineffective. Two, there is no reason to handcuff him in the first place because it doesn’t look like he is moving,” Rankin said. “And three, they don’t even start CPR until over five minutes after the shooting. If you are going to provide medical care for someone you should do it, of course, immediately.”

Eventually, Williams was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead from gunshot wounds to his head and torso. No officers have been charged or disciplined, and the Bronx District Attorney’s office hasn’t completed their investigation—prompting the family to pursue their own attempt at justice.

The District Attorney’s office and the NYPD did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

The lawsuit alleges the incident violated New York state law and the NYPD’s departmental regulations since officers had no probable cause to arrest Williams or deem him a threat.

Additionally, the suit asserts that, as recently as 2019, the NYPD “maintained a de facto policy and/or practice of unlawfully stopping and detaining minority NYC residents without reasonable suspicion and/or evidence that a crime had occurred, was occurring, or was about to occur.”

The Williams family has received “a total lack of respect from the Bronx District Attorney's office, Mayor de Blasio, and the NYPD,” Loyda Colon, co-director of the Justice Committee and a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, said Tuesday. “No family should be forced to wait this long without action and without accountability—especially after living through the NYPD unjustly demonizing their loved one to attempt to excuse the killing.”

Colon said that the Williams family were forced to take legal action instead of seeing the officers “fired for their deadly and illegal stop, escalation, and reckless shooting.” “They are a danger to all New Yorkers,” Colon said.

Williams’s brother, Justin, said Tuesday the family wanted to see the officers fired and tried “for unlawfully killing my brother.” Williams’ father, Shawn Williams, added, “Who do you turn to hold the police accountable? Who police the police?”

For Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, who was killed by NYPD officers in 2014, Williams’ death was another example of police “getting away with murder.”

“They murdered him and tried to justify that the incident was his own fault,” Carr said Tuesday, adding that the NYPD will do “anything to save their own.”

The officers involved in Garner’s death were never charged. Carr said there are “too many empty seats at the table in the Black and Brown communities, and nothing is done about it. That’s why I commit to keep on fighting.”

“If you were in a white community, there would have never been a stop. Let alone a tussle... and a killing,” she said.

Topics: Antonio Williams