CANTON, Ohio (AP) — The wife of a man who was fatally shot by police just minutes into the new year says he had been firing a gun to celebrate the arrival of 2022 when an officer opened fire on him without warning.
Marquetta Williams told The Repository newspaper of Canton that her 46-year-old husband, James, had used an AR-15 rifle that belonged to her to fire some celebratory shots early Saturday outside their Canton home. She said the gunfire is an annual tradition in their residential neighborhood in the city, with many neighbors also firing shots in the area filled with older homes that are fairly close together.
James Williams came back in the house but soon decided to go back outside and shoot some more. His wife said he fired four shots into the air and turned to follow her inside, but then told her, “I’ve been shot.”
In a statement issued Saturday, Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo said officers were investigating reports of gunfire when an officer who was outside his vehicle confronted someone who began shooting a firearm. Angelo said the officer feared for his safety and fired his duty weapon at the person, striking him.
The department has since declined further comment on the shooting.
Marquetta Williams said no officers identified themselves before the shooting occurred around 12:05 a.m. James Williams was taken to a hospital but was pronounced dead there a short time later. He was the father of four daughters and a step-father to two more.
“Out of the blue, he said he got shot, he got hit,” she said. “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.”
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating and all evidence including body camera images and firearms has been turned over to the agency. The officer involved has been placed on administrative duty, which is standard procedure in shootings involving police, and his name has not been released.
No officers were injured.