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Members of Trey Williams’s family listened quietly in a courtroom Wednesday as a Shelby County Grand Jury ruled that a Shelbyville police officer was justified in shooting and killing him.
Though quiet, each in his or her own way reflected deep anguish as the jury’s decision was related about the afternoon of Nov. 19, when Williams, 18, was shot and killed during a confrontation at his grandmother’s home.
Though with trembling lips, Williams’ father Gardner Williams, held himself erect, while his mother, Stephanie, stared straight ahead, with tears running down her cheeks.
Her father, Ben Farris and her daughter, Antoinette, completed the close-knit family group that had gathered in the circuit courtroom at the Shelby County Judicial Center to hear the news that no charges would be filed against Shelbyville Police Officer Suzannna Marcum, who shot and killed Williams after she and SPD officer Frank Willoughby confronted Williams when they responded to a burglary call at the house at 101 Clifton Ct.
The jury ruled on evidence presented by Commonwealth Attorney Laura Donnell following an investigation by Kentucky State Police.
“This wasn’t fair,” Gardner Williams said after hearing the findings. “I still think it’s murder when you take a kid away from his family like this. I don’t think it was justified. My son was not criminal.”
Donnell spoke with the Williamses after the proceedings. “They [the grand jury] want the family to know they feel it is a tragedy for everyone involved and that they took their role very seriously,” she said.
Circuit Judge Charles Hickman said that this is a “true tragedy for both officers and families.”
Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte echoed Hickman’s words and said the grand jury took a lengthy time to review the case and came to the decision that the shooting was justified.
“I would let that decision stand on its own merits,” he said.
The situation has been difficult for Marcum and Willoughby, who have been on administrative leave since the shooting, Schutte said.
He added that the officers won’t go back out on the street until they feel they are ready and have completed additional internal processes.
“I don’t have a specific date and time for that,” Schutte said.
He said the officers did not wish to comment on the ruling.
Kentucky State Police Detective Ben Wolcott said that toxicology and other test results would become public record after he closed the case, which he expected to do by the end of the week.
Investigators have said that the officers were investigating a 911 call and found a broken window that Saturday afternoon. A maintenance worker employed by the property manager in the largely rental neighborhood let the officers into the house.
There they were confronted, investigators have said, by Williams, a 230-pound man, who began swinging a pipe and various other items at the two officers. They used their Tasers to try to subdue him, but they proved ineffective.
Willoughby became incapacitated, investigators said, and that’s when Marcum shot him.
“In order to stop the assault against the incapacitated officer, the second officer [Marcum] utilized deadly force,” KSP spokesperson Ron Turley had said previously.
Williamses have hired attorneys Frank Mascagni and Sheldon L. Haden of the Oldfather Law Firm of Louisville to look into the possibility of a wrongful death suit and to help the Williams family find the answers they seek.
AnnB. Oldfather accompanied the family to the court proceeding and huddled with them afterward, but she left before she could be interviewed.
Though he didn’t go into specifics, Gardner Williams said after the hearing that, “This isn’t over.”
Before leaving the building, Williams paused to speak to a reporter, with his arm around his wife, who cried quietly against his shoulder.
“They can say what they want in that courtroom, but it was murder,” he said. “We just wanted to know why did they kill him. But we’ll just let the Lord take care of it. He’ll do it all.
“They’re the ones who have to live with it on their mind. They killed a young boy. They have to live with that for the rest of their lives. It would tear me to pieces if I did that to somebody’s kid.”
Williams said he didn’t think the police handled the matter the way they should have.
“They never even came out and said they were sorry; they couldn’t even do that,” he said. “That would have meant a lot. The police don’t ever think they’re in the wrong. But they’re only human like we are. We all make mistakes. Trey made a mistake. But he didn’t make a big enough mistake to die that day.”