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The family of a Shelbyville teen shot and killed by police spoke publicly about the tragedy for the first time since it happened.
Trey F. Williams, 18, a former Shelby County High School basketball player, was killed Nov. 19 inside his grandmother’s home on Clifton Court in Shelbyville during an altercation with two Shelbyville Police officers.
His parents, Gardner and Stephanie Williams, along with his grandmother, Dorothy Farris, spoke to The Sentinel-Newsfrom the office of their attorney, Frank Mascagni, a Louisville attorney the family has retained to look into the possibility of a wrongful death suit.
Kentucky State Police has been conducting the investigation since officer Suzanna Marcum drew her weapon and shot Williams after she and her partner, Frank Willoughby, had been unable to subdue Williams. Since initial reports in the days immediately following the incident, KSP has released few details.
And the Williamses spoke of how the frustration of not being provided with any answers as to why their son was killed is compounding their grief in an almost unbearable way – a situation that began at the hospital right after the shooting, Gardner Williams said.
“They just came out and said, ‘He’s dead,’” he said. “The state police won’t tell us anything; there’s just no reason for him to be gone.”
Williams tried to hold back tears, but they streamed down his face, unbidden.
“Our hearts have been ripped right out of us,” he said. “We feel like we can’t go on, but we have to; we have other family members who need us.”
“It feels like a nightmare, but then I wake up, and he’s not there.”
He clutched his wife’s hand: “This is so hard for us, we can’t even think about something like Christmas shopping.”
Stephanie Williams managed to keep her voice level, but her eyes were full of pain as she spoke with quiet dignity about the son she would never see again in this life.
“He was so kind-hearted,” she said. “Basketball made him happy. He played everyday. He always kept a smile on his face, and he’d say everything was alright.”
Her mother, Dorothy Farris, drew a deep breath, and then began to talk about her grandson, and the relationship between them when he had come to stay with her recently for a few months.
“I never had any trouble with him,” she said. “You would never even know he was in the house, except when I would hear him sometimes at night, getting up to get something to eat.
“He was a good child; he had good manners, and he sure knew how to treat his grandmother. He loved me and I loved him,” she said, beginning to sob quietly at last. “Such a good child, and I loved him.”
Through her tears, she told of the nightmarish events she would relive over and over again, how she got a phone call from a neighbor telling her there were police and ambulances at her house.
Not knowing what was going on, she went home and, once there, was told only to go to the hospital, where her bad news got as bad as it could get.
“They came out and said, ‘He’s dead,’ And I said, ‘Why, God? Please tell me why.’”
The family’s law team of Mascagni and attorney Sheldon L. Haden of the Oldfather Law Firm in Louisville say they are determined to help the Williams family find the answers they seek.
“They are not in it for the money; they just want to know what happened to their son,” he said. “If I don’t get a coroner’s report and a toxicology report by February, then I will file suit to get some answers.”
KSP spokesperson Ron Turley told The Sentinel-Newsin early December that KSP detectives had finished gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses and were awaiting toxicology results.
He said Thursday that that wait continues.
“We still have no results back,” he said. “There is nothing new at this time.”
Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte issued a statement the day after the shooting that Marcum and Willoughby had been placed on administration leave and said Thursday that he has not heard anything from KSP and cannot discuss any of the details of the case or comment on the officers’ status at the police department until after the investigation is completed.
Turley had stated previously that the two officers had responded to a 911 call of a suspected burglary at the home. The two officers had found a broken window and encountered Williams armed with a pipe and that they shot him several times with a Taser, with very limited results.
He said Marcum shot the teen during a struggle in which the teen had incapacitated Willoughby.
“In order to stop the assault against the incapacitated officer, the second officer [Marcum] utilized deadly force,” he said.
Mascagni said yesterday he had a real problem with that whole scenario.
“I just don’t understand it,” he said. “They had no search warrant, no probable cause to go in, and it’s very frustrating when an eighteen-year-old boy is shot in his grandmother’s home when he has a lawful right to be there.”
Gardner Williams said he just wants people to know that his son was not a bad person.
“I just want the truth to come out, why they had to take him from us,” he said. “And I want people to know how good he was. I think about him every day.
“And I miss him so much.”