SUMTER, SC (WIS) - The Third Circuit Solicitor's Office will not charge three officers involved in a shooting that killed a 35-year-old man who investigators said opened fire following a chase.
Solicitor Ernest A. Finney III discussed the case of 35-year-old Waltki Cermoun Williams and said based on the strength video evidence at hand, he would not be charging any of the Sumter Police Department officers.
"These cases can be tough," Finney said. "In my opinion, it's not a tough call. None of the these officers in this case will be charged. There is no evidence that I have seen that shows these officers were involved in any kind of deadly force that was not authorized."
The Solicitor's Office started the news conference by playing a 911 call from Williams' 16-year-old ex-girlfriend, who said he was outside the Sumter Mall, pointing a gun at her car, and threatening to kill her on the night of Dec. 10, 2016.
Following the calls, Finney played footage from several dashcams from patrol cars involved in the chase and body cams worn by the officers at the scene.
Officers say when arrived, they spotted Williams' car and gave chase. Williams, according to police, eventually collided with two other cars at the intersection of Miller Road and Guignard Drive and attempted to flee the scene.
However, investigators say, Williams and police were involved in a brief struggle and an exchange of gunfire before Williams was fatally wounded.
Finney said Williams had every opportunity to prevent this incident from being deadly.
"He left the scene of the mall with every opportunity to stop, and explain his side of the story to the officers that were there," Finney said. "He could have been told to go home, calm down, and there wouldn't have been any more problems. He chose not to do that."
Williams family filed a lawsuit against the City of Sumter and the Sumter Police Department. The lawsuit says Williams was unarmed in the exchange and that police fired upon him 24 times while he was on the ground.
Finney criticized the suit.
"There will be some people who have already stated in the press that Mr. Williams didn't have a gun. They didn't see the video when they made those statements. They didn't have access to my file when they made those statements. I believe this changes the picture quite a bit," Finney said.
Attorneys representing the city and the police department filed a response on April 11, largely denying many of the charges in this case and asking the case be dismissed.