SENTINEL-NEWS SPECIAL REPORT: The day Trey Williams died

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The details of a deadly struggle: Transcripts show, describe, scene when SPD officer shot teenager

By Lisa King

Three shots rang out in the back bedroom of a neat home on Clifton Court last Nov. 19, the day Shelbyville Police Officer Suzanna Marcum killed teenager Trey F. Williams during a violent struggle at his grandmother’s house.

Kentucky State Police detectives required about six weeks to complete their investigation, and a Shelby County Grand Jury used slightly more than four hours to determine that Marcum had acted with justifiable cause to use deadly force in subduing Williams, 18.

Investigators’ reports, 911 transcripts and video obtained by The Sentinel-Newsunder state open-records laws paint a gruesome and sad picture of the confrontation that took Williams' life, caused SPD Officer Frank Willoughby to fear for his and led grand jurors to rule Jan. 4 that Marcum was not guilty of murder.

Highlighted in the package of hundreds of pages of transcripts are three pieces of grainy, black-and-white video shot by the Tasers the officers first used to try to subdue Williams in that otherwise quiet and well-maintained home.

You already may have viewed some of that video as released by Williams’ attorneys to television stations in Louisville, and you may have heard reports that those attorneys, and Frank Mascagni, may be filing a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of Gardner and Stephanie Williams, Trey Williams’ parents, against Marcum for her use of force.

But a full review of the transcripts provides even more detail than the video and accompany showed.

There also are conflicting pieces of information, starting with the calls to Shelby County’s 911 dispatch that led Marcum and Willoughby to arrive at Clifton Court.

Transcripts of those calls include dates and times that don’t coincide with the events that investigators have included in their reports, but they appear to describe scenarios that alerted operators to an African-American male wearing only running shorts who was carrying a "pole" and what appeared to be a Bible and acting “off of his rocker” while striking one car window with that pole.

A second caller gave her address as Clifton Court and told operators that a man who was apparently that same person had broken out a window of a residence with a pole.


Officers dispatched

That’s when Marcum and Willoughby were dispatched to Clifton Court to investigate the broken window. The dispatcher tells Marcum there was “possibly something wrong with this guy.”

In statements provided to investigators, Marcum said she and Willoughby arrived and discovered a broken window with blood on the frame at 100 Clifton Court. They located a maintenance man working on a furnace at a nearby residence to unlock the door and let them into the house.

They entered the home, and walked through the living room, hallway, a bedroom and kitchen, calling out “Police” several times.

The video from Willoughby’s Taser camera was much clearer than Marcum’s, showing the interior of the home. Everything was neat, clean and orderly, except for the shattered window in the kitchen.

All was quiet, and no one appeared to be at home until the officers approached a bathroom and found its door locked.

Willoughby knocked on the door, and a voice erupted from the other side of the door, alternately screaming and loudly chanting something unintelligible over and over.

Willoughby later told KSP Detective Ben Wolcott, the lead investigator, that it sounded like “religious screamin’ and hollerin’” and was “crazy stuff.”

Willoughby’s voice can be heard over his Taser’s audio, calling out, “Hey, hey buddy!”

After several calls to unlock the door, Willoughby kicked in the door, and he and Marcum immediately began to use their Tasers on Williams, who fell to the floor, and tried to get back up.

Willoughby’s voice could be heard telling him to “stop resisting,” to put his hands behind his back and to stay down.

Williams can be seen on the video momentarily complying with that command, lying on his stomach with hands behind him for a couple of seconds as the officers continued to use their Tasers.

Then Williams, who was about 6 feet 2 and 230 pounds and wearing only shorts, got back to his feet and came at the officers.

During this time, records show he is shot with the Tasers 11 times, every 7 or 8 seconds, to no effect. At one point, the video is filled with the reflection of light from all the Taser wires swirling around.

That’s when the video gets less clear, as the brawl moves into a bedroom. There wasn’t much said at that point, except Williams spoke six times, in two-word phrases, repeating the same profanity each time.

Marcum’s voice was inaudible, and Willoughby could be heard as he continued to tell Williams to stop resisting.

That’s when shots began to ring out.

Williams was shot three times.

The fatal wound was a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the death certificate, signed by Shelby County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeff Ivers, who wrote that the injury was sustained in an “altercation with police and was shot while assaulting a police officer.”


Witness account

Shelbyville Police Officer Istvan Kovacs was the first officer on the scene after the shooting. In his statement, he said he was off duty but heard Marcum call for backup. He described the scene in the bedroom when he arrived.

 “When I walked in, I saw Officer Marcum had her gun pointed at a black male that was on the floor, kind of huddled face down, and Officer Willoughby was, appeared to be on his knees with his, like his torso, the top part of his body, lying on the bed.”

He asked what he could do to help Willoughby, whose voice can be heard on the Taser audio saying, “My head.…It’s my head.”

Then Marcum’s voice: “He slapped Frank and then slapped me. And then he came after me and he came after Frank with that thing. And…”

Kovacs told investigators later, “The guy on the floor, he wasn’t moving.”

Kovacs said Marcum told him, “He hit me in the head with a pipe or something. My head hurts.”

Kovacs said he helped up Willoughby, who then staggered and fell against a wall. He helped him out into the hall but didn’t go down the hallway because Marcum still had her weapon drawn and aiming at Williams.

“The person was still on the floor, and she still had her gun pointed at him. And I told her, ‘You’re OK. Go ahead and holster. Go ahead and holster.’ I said, ‘I’ve got him covered.’ So I covered the guy on the floor to make sure he wasn’t going to get up.”

At that point, EMS came in and began working on Williams, Kovacs said.

Willoughby said he kept trying to use the Taser on Williams, and he said he thought he struck him at least once with his fist because his hand was swollen. He told of being struck repeatedly and trying to protect his head.

“The next thing I know, something happened, and the lights went out,” Willoughby said. “Just like you’re looking at the TV, and the lights go out.”

Kovacs said Marcum told him, “I had to shoot him.”

Marcum said Williams attacked her in the hallway and hit her in the head with something,  then went back into the bedroom.

“By the time I got back into the bedroom, he had Frank in a choke hold and Frank was on the ground and they were wrestling, and Frank said, ‘Help me, help me.’ And I shot him. And he wouldn’t let Frank go, and I shot him again. And he wouldn’t let Frank go. He was still fighting Frank, and I shot him one more time, and then…”


Dead at 2:40 p.m.

Willoughby, Marcum and Williams were all taken to Jewish Hospital Shelbyville, where Willoughby was treated for head injuries, an injured right hand and abrasions to his stomach and right knee. Marcum had an injury to the back of her head.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Hunter Martin said when he got to the hospital Willoughby was sitting in a chair being treated by EMS.

“He was bleeding from the head, his uniform was in disarray, he was pale and generally looked as if he was injured and slightly out of it,” Martin said.

He added that Marcum told him Willoughby was calling out to her to help him, and she was afraid to shoot Williams because she might hit Willoughby, but she did shoot him.

Williams was pronounced dead at 2:40 p.m.

A blood toxicology report showed that Williams had marijuana in his system but tested negative for any other substance.

His injuries included scratches and abrasions over his body, as well as six wounds from gunshots, two of them grazes, including the fatal shot to the chest.