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On Saturday afternoon, in the space of an hour, Trey F. Williams, an 18-year-old recent graduate of Shelby County High School, went from playing basketball with friends at Clear Creek Park to lying dead in the home where his maternal grandmother lives in Shelbyville.
Williams confronted two Shelbyville Police officers responding to a burglary call, attacked them with a pipe and items found in the house and was shot and killed when he would not stop that assault, police said.
The tragic scene in a tidy home at 100 Clifton Court, part of a small neighborhood of rental property off Mack Walters Road, left not only Williams dead and the two officers injured but dozens of questions from his family, friends and the community at large as they tried desperately to understand the sequence of events that left dead a well-liked teenager.
The investigation into the shooting is being handled by Kentucky State Police, who said that SPD officers Frank Willoughby and Suzanna Marcum acted in self-defense when they used deadly force against a man who apparently was home alone on a breezy afternoon.
Williams’ extended family, friends and neighbors crowded around the houses along Clifton Court just after the shooting, passing along information and waiting to hear details from investigators, expressing shock and disbelief by what had happened inside the home where Dorothy Farris lives.
At times there was shouting at more than a dozen police from three different agencies who lined the street near where the patrol cars were parked and the yellow crime-scene tape wrapped around Farris’ property. Detectives and crime-scene investigators went about their business well into a chilly night.
Farris, who arrived after 4 p.m., obviously distressed and talking animatedly with police, said she was at a church meeting in Frankfort when a neighbor called to tell her someone was breaking into her house. When she arrived in Shelbyville around 3 p.m., she learned that her grandson was dead.
“I went to the hospital and found out my daughter was there [being treated], her sister was there and my grandson was dead,” she said. “It’s not right. They [police] are supposed to support the law.
“There’s all this dope out here, and they [police] don’t come when we call them. Then they come kill this child. You think that’s right?”
She vowed to pursue the answers in this shooting, saying the truth would come out. “They’ve taken something I love,” she said, her voice loud with outrage.
Later dozens of Williams’ family and friends gathered in a circle and prayed before dispersing quietly, but their questions will continue to be aired.
Family hires attorney
On Monday, Williams’ parents – Gardiner and Stephanie Williams of Shelbyville – hired prominent Louisville attorney Frank Mascagni to explore the potential for a wrongful-death suit.
“I have more question than I have answers,” he said.
Mascagni said before he can determine whether the Williams family has grounds to file a suit he has to gather a great deal of information, and there are still many pieces of the puzzle that don’t fit.
“I just want to know how an eighteen-year-old boy with no prior record is killed in his grandmother’s home?” he said.
But Williams did in fact, have a record.
He was arrested Nov. 14 at his place of employment, Dairy Queen on Midland Trail in Shelbyville, and charged with disorderly conduct for getting into a loud argument with another employee.
He was arrested, the police report said, after being given multiple warnings to “stop screaming,” and did not comply. He was booked and spent a night in jail before being released.
Mascagni said some of his concerns center on such details as how the officers came to enter the home, who let them in, and under what circumstances, as well as Williams’ right to be in the home.
Also, he said he had an issue with the procedure involving the investigation.
“Do we need a third party reviewing this?” he said.
To that point, Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte said his department was not conducting the investigation.
“We have turned everything over to KSP; they are conducting the investigation,” he said.
The police report
Here’s what KSP spokesperson Ron Turley has stated thus far about that investigation:
About 1:40 on Saturday, central dispatch received a call that a black male was walking on Midland Trail and that he hit a car’s windshield with the pipe and took off running.
A second 911 call reported someone fitting that same description had broken out a window at 100 Clifton Ct. When Marcum and Willoughby arrived there in response to a possible burglary, neighbors told them they heard glass breaking, and the officers found blood at a broken kitchen window, Turley said
He said a maintenance man let the officers into the house.
“Those are government houses, and they have a maintenance man who just happened to be [working] a couple of houses down,” he said. “So they [officers] got him, he unlocked the door, they asked him to get back, and they started announcing, you know, that they’re coming in.”
Turley described Williams as standing 6 feet 1 and weighing 260 pounds and that he refused to comply with the officers’ demands.
Both officers used their Tasers on him several times but with very limited effect, and Williams attacked both officers several times and overpowered both of them, incapacitating Willoughby.
“In order to stop the assault against the incapacitated officer, the second officer [Marcum] utilized deadly force,” Turley said.
Around 2:07 the call of “officer down” was transmitted, and emergency workers responded to the scene. Williams, Marcum and Willoughby were transported to Jewish Hospital Shelbyville, where Williams died.
Marcum and Willoughby were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and held overnight.
Mascagni said it was his understanding that Williams had a right to be in the home, and that he was asleep.
When asked about that by a reporter, Turley said Williams was not asleep.
“He was not asleep, and he didn’t have a key; the guy is two-hundred sixty pounds, and he’s six-foot-one, and he broke out a kitchen window of double paned-glass that is only twenty-four by twenty-four and crawled through it,” he said. “He was cut to pieces.
“If he was living there, he would have had a key, wouldn’t he?”
Mascagni said, “I better hear a good answer why two grown people can’t subdue an eighteen-year-old boy without killing him.”
Turley said Tuesday that he had issued the updated press release so to “let the public see how we’re moving with our investigation.”
“We don’t want the public to think we’ve got just people running around people,” he said.
Schutte would not comment about the investigation at all, other than to say that Marcum and Willoughby have been place on administrative leave under standard department policy until the investigation is completed.
Neither of the officers nor members of their families would return calls from The Sentinel-News, although Marcum’s son, John, posted comments on the newspaper’s Facebook page to counter the dozens and dozens of commenters who held the officer accountable for the shooting.
There was a community prayer event on Tuesday night to celebrate Trey F. Williams, and his funeral is 2 p.m. today.
In the meantime, the investigation by KSP is far from closed.
“Within this investigation, are several smaller investigations,” he said. “The Shelbyville Police have opened up a burglary case. We’ve opened up two assault-first cases. Also, we’ve got a death investigation going on, along with a police shooting.”
Turley said it’s standard procedure in small departments, such as in Shelbyville’s, to call upon an outside agency to conduct an investigation into a police shooting.
He said that state police investigators are busy right now attending to many things, such as cataloging evidence, waiting for toxicology and coroner’s reports, and many other details.
“All this will take a while, probably around two months, and then after that, we have to present our findings to a grand jury, who will decide whether they [officers] acted appropriately or inappropriately,” he said. “If they don’t indict, then after 45 days, we may close it.”