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Lawyer: Suspect Didn't Shoot Ferguson Cops

Claims Jeffrey Williams was beaten, perhaps coerced, by police
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2015 9:36 AM CDT
Lawyer: Suspect Didn't Shoot Ferguson Cops
This photo provided by the St. Louis County Police Department on Sunday, March 15, 2015, shows Jeffrey Williams, 20.   (AP Photo/St. Louis County Police Department)

(Newser) – Jeffrey Williams didn't intend to shoot two Ferguson police officers last Thursday, and he didn't intend to shoot protesters either, his lawyer says. In fact, "I don't think he shot anybody," defense attorney Jerryl Christmas tells the New York Times. "I clearly think that we don't have the right person in custody." Without explaining exactly what he thinks happened, Christmas tells the AP, "Those officers were shot accidentally." He adds, "This wasn't any type of ambush shooting." Christmas also claims his client, who has a baby on the way with his girlfriend, was a victim of excessive force during his arrest, noting Williams had bruises on his face, back, and shoulders. A police rep says that's "completely false" as every incoming inmate is seen by a nurse and "the nurse released Williams as fit for confinement."

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Authorities initially said Williams told them he was aiming at someone with whom he'd argued in the crowd of protesters when the officers were shot. But Christmas says he isn't aware of any dispute. "It appears that whatever statements he made, he was without the advice of counsel, and when I look at the bruising, it's hard for me [to] assess if these were voluntary statements that he made," he tells CNN. He specifically points to what he says is bruising on Williams' right cheek, visible in a booking photo. However, a police rep notes Williams' entire interview with police "was video and audio recorded." Williams, who was charged with receiving stolen property and fraud with a debit or credit card in 2013, is being held on a $300,000 bond. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that civil rights lawyers from the Justice Department will visit Ferguson to debate whether the police department should be swapped for a regional force. (Read more Ferguson, Missouri stories.)

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