On Tuesday, the attorney for Jeffrey Williams, the suspect in the shooting that wounded two police officers just after midnight on Thursday, claimed that not only had Williams not fired a weapon, but that his confession was made when he was in a great amount of pain, after being physically abused by police.
Jerryl T. Christmas, the attorney for the 20-year-old who was arrested Saturday night and charged with two counts of first degree assault and one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle, told Yahoo News that Williams claimed he was in a “tremendous amount of pain,” after he was pistol-whipped by police officers before being interrogated by detectives.
“He told me that he never fired a weapon,” said Christmas, who explained that “under those circumstances,” he believed Williams would have said anything.
“Anytime someone is questioned without counsel and then I see that kind of bruising, then I’m suspicious about any statements that he may have voluntarily given,” Christmas said.
While St. Louis Police have called the accusation that Williams was abused “completely false,” Christmas pointed to the bruising on the right side of Williams’ face in his mugshot. “I don’t see how they are denying it, it’s right there on their own mug shot,” Christmas said.
Christmas told Yahoo News that officers struck Williams “in the face, neck, back and head while arresting him at his girlfriend’s house late Saturday,” and that he has “a knot on the back of his head where he says they hit him with the butt of a pistol.”
At a press conference on Sunday, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that Williams had been arrested and was being charged in the shooting that wounded two police officers outside the Ferguson Police Department as a protest from Wednesday night was coming to a close.
Protestors had gathered following the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who resigned in the wake of a scathing report that revealed the police department in Ferguson exercised discrimination against the black community.
“He has acknowledged firing the shots,” McCulloch said, referring to Williams. “He was on probation here in St. Louis County for accepting stolen property.”
McCulloch also claimed that Williams was a regular protestor, and had attended several of the demonstrations in the Ferguson community that have occurred since an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white Ferguson police officer on August 9, 2014.
Following Sunday’s press conference, journalists and activists took to Twitter and contested the claim that Williams was a “regular protestor.”
Activist DeRay McKesson wrote that he could not recall ever seeing Williams at any protests, including the night of the shooting, and Journalist Matt Pearce wrote that judging from what he and other reporters remembered, Williams was “no mainstay, if he had ever protested at all.“