Note: we are republishing this story amid nationwide discussion regarding police accountability and the relationship between police officers and their communities.
Matthew Zadok Williams’ family have denied the allegations made against their late son.
The 35-year-old was shot dead around 4am within the vicinity of his home. Officers from (DeKalb County Police) arrived on the scene, only to later claim that the deceased had "lunged at officers with a knife on two separate occasions." Such a statement would be a profound one and could easily justify an officer's actions as mere self-defense.
The family, though, have disputed the veracity of the account. His sister, Hahnah Williams, painted a picture of someone who was far from an aggressive man. She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "He was a non-violent person. He wouldn't kill a bug."
The family has demanded the release of the body camera footage. Mawuli Davis, who happens to be the family lawyer, has reason to believe that the police account may not be all that genuine. He remarked: "Based on what we're hearing, whatever happened is very, very different from what police are reporting."
When read in light of the following, there may be a genuine case. The police had reportedly failed to inform Matthew's mother, Chris Ann Lewis, of the incident. Regardless of whether the action was self-defense, there appears to be some negligence on the part of the police.
The reaction on social media has been in the same vein. One observer had attacked the perceived media bias and demanded the truth. In a Twitter post, @RenittaShannon commented: "This just happened, and we need answers now. What’s being reported in the media is one-sided. Hear directly from the family of Matthew “Zadok” Williams, who was shot in his home by police."
As the family waits on the outcome of the case, the community has responded with some much-needed support. A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family. In it, Mathew was described as “an avid reader. An activist. A humanitarian. A pacifist. He was full of life and love so exuberant that he radiated. He was the only boy out of six children, and we cherished every moment with him. My family is devastated by this loss. Our lives will never be the same.”
The funds would cover the cost of the legal fees, and the response has been impressive. Over $20,000 out of the requested $35,000 has been raised. With the family left in mourning, only a trial can put this to bed.