New York City police department officials have sketched out some details of what unfolded at Edenwald Houses in the Bronx nearly two weeks ago, on a night that left a police officer and a civilian dead. Most of that information came within 24 hours of the incident, and large gaps remain. 

According to the NYPD, Brian Mulkeen, a plainclothes officer charged with getting illegal guns off the street, was on patrol with his anti-crime unit at Edenwald Houses. Police officials said Mulkeen stopped to question Antonio Williams, who ran. 

The chase ended in 15 police bullets killing both Mulkeen and Williams. Police said Williams was armed, but that he never fired a gun.

The Medical Examiner reported that Mulkeen was hit twice, in the head and torso. Williams was shot eight times: once in the head and seven times in the torso. 

Nearly two weeks later, members of the Williams family are seeking answers on what exactly led to such a deadly encounter.  

“I would like to know the truth — that's all,” said Shawn Williams, Antonio’s father. “I say that wholeheartedly.”

Shawn and his wife, Gladys, who has been a stepmom to Antonio since he was about eight years old, said that any updates about the incident the family has received have come from media reports, whose information has been supplied by the NYPD. 

The family is hiring an attorney to help them navigate the process of obtaining grim details about their son’s death while also grieving for him. They are also receiving guidance from the organization Communities United for Police Reform. 

But while not having answers to how events unfolded has been hard, they are also struggling with the public portrayal of their son. They said the descriptions of their son as a “soulless individual” and a “reputed gangbanger” by the police union and the NY Post do not match what they know of Antonio, whom they describe as a cherished member of a large, close-knit family.

Dehumanized my son — that's what they've done,” Shawn Williams said of news reports and the information put out by the police department. “Anything negative, they have attached it to his name.”

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Antonio, who was 27 when he died, did have a criminal record. He was convicted of a 2011 burglary in Rockland County, and served approximately three years in a medium correctional facility. His family said the crime was non-violent.

He also had a 2018 drug charge that resulted in probation, according to NYPD officials. Shawn and Gladys said they were not aware of it.

This past August, Binghamton police charged Antonio with harassment following an apparent domestic violence dispute. The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin cited court records showing that he was accused of slapping his long-time girlfriend. According to the report, the two argued because she had found a gun and drugs in the closet.

Antonio’s family members said his criminal past has been used as justification for his death. They are eager to know details like why he was approached by officers in the first place; whether the officers witnessed him with a gun or suspected him of criminal activity; whether the officers, who were in plainclothes, identified themselves as police; and why the encounter escalated so violently. 

“I feel strongly that my brother should still be alive — the officer should still be alive,” said Nicole Johnson, Antonio’s sister. “It doesn't seem like anyone should have died that night. I think we can get closer to understanding why that happened if we start answering those questions about why they approached him in plain clothes.”

But answers will likely not come anytime soon. The Bronx District Attorney’s office, through its Public Integrity Bureau, is investigating the incident in partnership with the NYPD, as it does with all police-involved shootings of civilians in the borough. Police officials said the investigation could take weeks or even months. 

Officials in the district attorney’s office said it is up to the NYPD to determine when and how much video footage to release from the officers’ body-worn cameras to the public. Five of the six officers on scene had their cameras on.

“We’re going to end up releasing some of it,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said this week.

The footage that will be made public, he said, will likely only include the moments leading up to the shooting. Officer Mulkeen was the only officer who did not have his camera on, O’Neill said a day after the deaths.

The commissioner said Officer Mulkeen and his unit were patrolling Edenwald Houses on September 29 following a prior shooting, days before, involving multiple weapons there. He said this week that Williams was not a suspect in that incident. 

The city’s Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams, said when an officer is killed, the whole city grieves. But it’s easy to forget the family on the other side.

“I think there’s an overall problem with the fact that NYPD controls the narrative too often — not just when an officer’s killed, God forbid, but when there’s a police-involved shooting, when there’s an issue around accountability,” the public advocate said. “Too often that power is in totally the police department’s hands.”

Shawn and Gladys Williams, in an interview at their home in Rockland County, said Antonio’s death was a devastating blow to the family.

He had six siblings, including Johnson. He was the eldest of five boys — including a twin brother — and Antonio remained very close with his mother, who lives near Washington, D.C. He was the father of two young children, ages 4 and 2.

Johnson said she had been spending the week after Antonio’s death reflecting on the different phases of her brother’s life. She had been re-reading letters he wrote her while he was incarcerated on the burglary charge. She thought about the father-daughter dance he just attended at his daughter's preschool, and his exuberance upon learning he was having a son.

“I would say the most recent Antonio was a father first and foremost,” she said. “Especially being the older sister who does not have children, it was kind of interesting to watch him grow into that role.”

The family was able to see Antonio’s body once it was released by the medical examiner, more than five days after the shooting. Shawn Williams said he tried to view the body at the hospital the night of the incident, but the NYPD would not allow it. An officer asked Shawn to identify Antonio with a photograph.

Once the city released Antonio’s body, the family began making funeral arrangements. Antonio’s brother, Angelo, said that his family will need more information for any kind of closure. 

“We're not trying to be negative toward anybody or anything like that,” he said. “We just want the truth. That's all we want just like any other family would.”