It took nearly two years for Noah Williams to open up, but three days after a viral video showing a white police officer in Minneapolis kneeling on the neck of a Black man, George Floyd, caused nationwide protests, the Washington State basketball guard felt the time was finally appropriate.
“A lot of African Americans have a krazy story they have with the pigs,” Williams tweeted Thursday night. “I never really had the (courage) to really talk about my situation. But here’s a story that happen few summers back with my Lul brother P and I.”
Linked to the tweet was a Seattle Times story of an incident involving Williams, coming off his freshman season with the Cougars, and former high-school teammate and close friend Paolo Banchero, a five-star basketball prospect from O’Dea High School.
On June 19, 2018, Williams and Banchero, both students at O’Dea, had attended a Chris Brown concert at the White River Ampitheatre in Auburn when they were wrongly held at gunpoint by King County sheriff’s Deputy Corey Marcotte as they waited for Williams’ sister and other friends.
The Times story reported that Marcotte was apparently on the lookout for a stolen Jeep and pointed his weapon at Williams, who was in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Because both were minors at the time, Williams is labeled as N.W. in The Times story, and Banchero is labeled as P.B.
A lawsuit filed in November 2018 by the U.S. District Court notes Marcotte yelled at Williams, telling him not to move.
The lawsuit stated the following, per The Times: “N.W. heard the pistol cock. He turned his head and saw the pistol inches away from his head. He was looking down the barrel of the pistol. P.B., who had been holding his phone, dropped it and held up his hands. Both boys, according to the lawsuit, asked Marcotte why he was pointing his gun at them.”
The Jeep that Williams was driving was registered to his mother Monique, and the stolen-vehicle report Marcotte had been following turned out to be false, according to the story. The Jeep that was allegedly stolen had been moved.
“In that moment, N.W., who is African American, believed he was going to be shot,” the lawsuit said, per The Times. “Amid images of other African Americans getting killed he’d seen on television or heard about on social media, N.W. thought, ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me!’ ”
Floyd’s death spurred more conversation, and debate around the topic of police brutality and Blacks, and came approximately two months after an unarmed 25-year-old Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was shot and killed in Georgia while being pursued by two white men driving a pickup truck. Both suspects in the Arbery case were arrested and charged with murder, but not until 74 days after the incident occurred.
“All I can do is pray for the black community,” Williams also wrote in his tweet.
Banchero, now considered the fourth-best high-school prospect in America, shared Williams’ tweet and admitted he was skeptical of sharing his story with the public.
“Neither have I bro,” Banchero wrote in his own tweet, which was punctuated with a hand on face emoji and a praying hands emoji. “Took me almost 2 years to speak on it. you never really understand the weight of something until it’s right there in front of you (literally).”
On Wednesday, Williams also shared a tweet of video showing the still-ongoing protests in Minneapolis.
In the report filed by Marcotte, the officer denies pointing the weapon at Williams but acknowledges he approached the Jeep with his gun drawn. According to the report cited by the Times, Williams was “verbally uncooperative and asked me why I had my gun pointed at him.”
Williams and Banchero were ordered to exit the vehicle, according to the story, and Williams was handcuffed tightly and shoved onto the hood of vehicle. The lawsuit also states Williams “involuntarily urinated on himself out of fear.”
The friends and O’Dea teammates alleged in the lawsuit the experience traumatized them and caused them to develop mistrust of police.
The White River Ampitheatre incident set in motion new use-of-force guidelines at the King County Sheriff’s Office on when deputies can threaten a motorist with deadly force, per The Times story, and both Williams and Banchero received settlements — $30,000 for Williams and $20,000 for Banchero.