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Widow Says Cop Shot Man Who Fired Gun to Celebrate NYE

She says celebratory gunfire is a tradition in their Ohio neighborhood
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2022 5:35 PM CST
Widow Says Cop Shot Man After He Fired Gun to Celebrate NYE
Marquetta Williams gestures to a section of family's wooden security fence on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Canton, Ohio.   (Julie Vennitti Botos/The Canton Repository via AP)

Marquetta Williams says it is a tradition in her Canton, Ohio neighborhood to fire guns in the air at New Year's Eve—but this year, her husband's celebratory gunfire was answered with police bullets. The widow says 46-year-old James Williams was killed when an officer opened fire without warning, the Guardian reports. She tells the Canton Repository that her husband fired her AR-15 rifle into the air from their enclosed patio as they heard neighbors doing the same. "We do this every year because it was New Year's Eve," she says. "Everybody (in the neighborhood) was shooting. It was a tradition. Everybody shoots on New Year's Eve."

Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo said Saturday that an officer responding to reports of gunfire a few minutes after midnight confronted somebody who began shooting, the AP reports. The chief says the officer fired because he feared for his life. Williams, however, says there was no confrontation. She says the officer, who has been placed on administrative duty, fired without warning through a 6-foot-tall wooden security fence. "Out of the blue, he said he got shot, he got hit," Williams tells the Repository. "I don't know where it came from. Nobody said anything. They didn't say, 'Police.' They didn't say, 'Freeze.' They didn't say, 'Drop your weapon.' They just shot him."

"My husband is shot," Williams said in a 911 call released Monday. Her husband was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 12:26am. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the death and has been given evidence including body camera photos. Williams says she wants justice for her husband, who was the father of four daughters and stepfather to two more. "My husband was a good man, and he didn't deserve to die this way," she says. (More Ohio stories.)

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