The sister of Waltki Cermoun Williams, the 35-year-old Sumter man who was killed during a shooting incident with local police officers on Dec. 10, 2016, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Sumter and Sumter Police Department on Friday.
The lawsuit alleges that Williams' death was caused by grossly negligent and reckless actions of the city and police department which failed to properly train and supervise officers in the standards and procedures involved during a pursuit and the use of deadly force.
The city is being charged along with the police department because the city is responsible for the agency, according to the lawsuit.
The allegations of the lawsuit begin with the events of the chase in which Williams led police officers from Sumter Mall on Broad Street to the intersection of Miller Road and Guignard Drive, where Williams' vehicle crashed into another vehicle.
According to the lawsuit, Williams threw an object through the rear glass window of the vehicle and exited through that area. He then ran approximately 10 steps before he was tackled by officers and driven to the ground.
Williams "did not have a weapon and he was not a threat in any way," the lawsuit states.
At least three Sumter police officers made the conscious decision to use "inappropriate and improper use of deadly force by firing their service weapons indiscriminately at least 24 times" while Williams was lying on the ground and not moving, according to the document.
The lawsuit states Williams was struck by at least 19 bullets - 17 of which went into his back. The plaintiff claims to have been informed that six bullets exited the chest; one bullet exited the right side of the neck; and other bullets struck the upper and middle portion of the left arm.
"Additionally, firing their weapons 24 times at close range at an unarmed man lying still on the ground is so extreme and outrageous that it shocks the conscious (sic)," according to the lawsuit.
The document also states the "plaintiff is entitled to actual and consequential damages in an amount to be determined by a jury in accordance with the law and evidence of this case."
According to a news release issued by the department on Dec. 11, 2016, the "use-of-force incident" followed a domestic violence call at Sumter Mall during which Williams was said to have allegedly threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend if she came outside. He was allegedly seen pointing a firearm at the woman's vehicle.
Williams drove away from the area when officers arrived and crashed into two vehicles at the intersection of Guignard Drive and Miller Road, according to the release.
After the wreck, Williams exited his vehicle and led officers on a short foot chase. "There was a brief struggle and then an exchange of gunfire," according to the release.
According to subsequent information issued by the police department, two police officers fired their weapons during the incident.
Legal counsel for the Estate of Waltki Williams, represented by the deceased's sister, is attorney C. Carter Elliott Jr. of Elliott Phelan LLC in Georgetown. The city and police department are represented by attorney Willie H. Brunson of Brunson Law Firm LLC in Sumter. Attorneys for the Estate of Waltki Williams and the city of Sumter and Sumter Police Department could not be reached for comment.
Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the police department, said the department had not been served with the lawsuit as of Monday evening and therefore could not comment on the matter. After the Associated Press published a story on the lawsuit Monday evening, McGirt said the police department disputes the claims cited.
On Monday evening, Third Judicial Circuit Solicitor Ernest F. "Chip" Finney III said he had no knowledge of the lawsuit.
AP contributed to this article.
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