The family of a man killed by police in the Bronx earlier this year is condemning the NYPD's decision to release only partial video of the deadly shooting.
“We want to see the complete, unedited video," said Shawn Williams, father of victim Antonio Williams. "For them to say that the video that they produced was unedited, that’s like another slap in the face to us to as a family.”
Body camera footage of the September 29th incident, in which cops fatally shot the 27-year-old Williams and one of their own officers, Brian Mulkeen, at Eastchester's Edenwald Houses, was shared by the NYPD on Friday evening. The 13 minute video package features recordings from multiple body cams showing the moments leading up to the fatal confrontation, all of which fade out immediately after police open fire.
In the videos, Officer Mulkeen and Officer Robert Witchers can be seen jumping from an unmarked squad car and chasing after Williams. The two plainclothes cops quickly tackle him to the ground. They begin wrestling over a gun, as one of them repeatedly shouts, "he's reaching for it!"
Within seconds, an officer, a detective, and a sergeant arrive on the scene. All six officers quickly open fire, shooting a total of 15 rounds, according to police. (Body camera footage begins around the 6:00 minute mark).
Only the footage from Officer Wichers features sound—a function of the cameras, which store buffer footage in the minute leading up to when an officer presses record, but do not begin picking up audio until they are activated.
According to the victim's family, the videos fail to answer several questions they've raised about Williams's death, including why he was stopped in the first place. Police have not said whether Williams was a suspect in a crime; an investigation found that the gun recovered from him had not been discharged at the scene.
"I feel as though it was the first time that we found out about Antonio that first night," said Williams's stepmother, Gladys. "The fogginess, the upset, the aggravation, the anger. It was just reopening a whole new wound all over again."
Adding to that frustration, the family says they were caught off guard by the timing of the release. They'd initially asked the department to wait until Monday to share the video, so that Williams's mom, who's based near Washington D.C., would have the opportunity to view it privately this weekend
But NYPD leadership ignored that request, instead circulating the footage on Friday night, hours after the victim's dad and stepmother had a chance to view it, according to Shawn Williams.
Police reform advocates have called on the NYPD to be more open about their policies for releasing body camera footage. Long-awaited guidelines circulated last month allow the NYPD to redact footage in deadly incidents "as appropriate," and give the department 30 days to decide whether recordings should be released to the public at all. The two-page memo was widely criticized by advocates, who argue that the guidelines offer even less transparency than before, when the NYPD had no policy.
"For me, I wanted to know the honest-to-God truth of what happened to my son,” added Shawn Williams, who has joined several of the protests against the department's body camera policies.
Asked about the criticism from the family, a spokesperson for the NYPD, Jessica McRorie, said that the NYPD is "committed to releasing footage of critical incidents captured by body-worn cameras within 30 days, with limited exceptions, while also balancing privacy concerns, protecting against compromising criminal investigations, and the need to comply with federal, state and local disclosure laws."
"The Department will be sharing additional videos for other police involved shooting incidents in the coming weeks and months," she added.
This story has been updated to clarify the shooting took place on September 29th, and not September 30th.