Monday, April 12th, Matthew Zadok Williams, 35, of Decatur, was shot twice and killed by DeKalb County police inside of his own home.
When officers arrived at 4:00 PM, they approached Williams near the house at 2577 Terrace Trail and he lunged at one of them with a knife, according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation press release. Amid a scramble, another officer fired a shot at Williams, who initially ran away, but then returned to the scene and entered the house by breaking through a second-story window.
According to the released bodycam footage, one officer who was identified as a supervisor said, “If you want us to leave, you got to let us know something.”
“I’m defending my property,” Williams said to the officers.
“You a Black man; I’m a Black man. You don’t have to die today. I don’t want you to die today,” said the supervising officer. “We’re here to help you.”
Suddenly, one of the officers fired three shots as all three near the door stepped back, and the door was closed from the inside.
“We gonna back off,” said the supervising officer, as the other officers walked away from the door.
An attorney for Williams’ family, Mawuli Davis, said Williams owned the house for 15 years.
“Why couldn’t they have waited before firing the shots?” said Davis. “Once they kick the door, and then they shoot him, where was the concern about going in to see if he’s okay then? And that is so problematic.”
Williams would later die.
Unsure of the truthfulness of the DeKalb County autopsy report, the Williams family hired a doctor to perform an examination at their request. Dr. Jackson Gates said his analysis suggests Williams bled slowly after he was shot.
“He dropped his blood pressure really, really quick, and probably was not quite dead, and could have been salvageable,” Gates said.
A white woman indicated to police that Williams ran back into a house that was not his, claiming it was vacant. The officers approached him as if he were not a home owner and if he were trespassing. That proved to be a fatal mistake. Moreover, a 911 call referred to Williams as a homeless man.
The officers involved in the shooting death of Matthew Zadok Williams were Black. But, Georgia State Rep. Renitta Shannon explained that under the 200 year system of white supremacy, there is an implied belief of which race matters most in America.
“That is why you are seeing police officers when they feel like it’s me or you. They are quick to waste Black life. But in a white community, they would think twice so you know why, because they know there would be Hell to pay,” Shannon explained, D-Decatur. “If they just shot down white person without even trying to do anything to preserve their life.
This is about respect, and cases like this are the reasons why people are saying that we need to ‘Defund The Police.’ Cases like this are the reason that we have to say that ‘Black Lives Matter,’ I mean this is plain and simple. Why did Zadok have to die? What was the reason? There is no reason.”
However, Williams was having a mental health episode and the police did not know how to adequately recognize it, according to Beulah Williams, one of Matthew’s five sisters.
“We’re all breathing, we’re trying to get through this,” Beulah Williams said. “But I just want to make it clear that what’s keeping me up at night is that my brother should be alive. He should be recovering in the hospital. I was at the hospital and when they called me and let me know. And I just can’t, I just, I don’t understand why he’s not here. Why no care was rendered.”
Williams loved to trade stocks and babysit his nieces. He also never had the chance to marry, nor did he have children. Matthew Zadok Williams was the youngest of six children. His mother, Chrys Ann Lewis, said he was an on-and-off vegetarian. His mother said his middle name, Zadok (pronounced Zah-DOAK), which is derived from Hebrew etymology, means righteousness and justice.
I’m just overwhelmed with grief, and it’s all I can do to stand here before you hold it together,” Lewis said. But I think everyone, all the support, everybody. And I want you to not forget justice for Matthew Zadok Williams. Don’t let this die, I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
At the time of writing, a GoFundMe has raised $25,000 of their stated goal of $35,000.