Sunday, June 16, 2024

Norfolk officers justified in shooting death of 39-year-old man

Norfolk police found these guns inside an apartment where Tyson Chad Williams barricaded himself before his July 3, 2017 death. (Courtesy of the NPD)

NORFOLK — Norfolk police officers used appropriate force during the shooting death of a 39-year-old man in an Ocean View neighborhood last summer, according to the city’s commonwealth’s attorney.

Tyson Chad Williams, a military veteran, was pronounced dead at 1:01 a.m. on July 3, 2017 — less than an hour after he shot a Norfolk Police Department sergeant who was attempting to use a body camera to clear the apartment where Williams had barricaded himself.

Although Williams’ shot hit the sergeant in the chest, the officer walked away from the shooting physically unscathed because he was wearing a ballistic vest, according to a letter penned by Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood.

Williams’ death came nearly two hours after NPD officers were called to the 9600 block of 14th Bay Street. Police interviews showed that Williams had spoken with neighbors before climbing into an empty apartment through a window, the letter states.

Through their investigation, the NPD determined that Williams told neighbors that he had two handguns and that his wife had hired people who “were trying to kill him,” according to the letter.

During their investigation, Williams’ mother told police that he had a history of mental illness and that he believed people living inside his house “had drugged him in his sleep.” A social worker was assigned to Williams, and determined that he needed mental health services, the letter states.

Police also spoke with Williams’ estranged wife, who told police that they had two children together who were in foster care. She said Williams spoke of an “upcoming civil war” and thought that people wanted to hurt him, according to the letter.

NPD officers also believed Williams was involved in a burglary that happened on July 2, 2017 at a nearby marina, in which two guns were stolen. The description a boat owner gave police matched Williams’ physical appearance and demeanor, the letter states.

Police arrived at the apartment around 11:16 p.m. on July 2, 2017 and set up a perimeter around the building. Although a crisis negotiator tried to talk to Williams for about an hour, Williams wasn’t responsive, according to the letter.

Between midnight and 12:15 a.m., officers heard a single gunshot that sounded like it was coming from the back of the apartment. Police determined that that was when Williams shot the sergeant in the chest, the letter states.

Then, Williams, who was holding a handgun, began “moving quickly” toward the front door of the apartment where the crisis negotiator and two other officers were standing. Although the officers told Williams to stop and drop his gun, he didn’t. That’s when two of the NPD officers who were standing near the front door discharged their guns, according to the letter.

After he’d been shot, police tried to give Williams first aid; however, paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. Williams’ autopsy showed he died from a single gunshot wound to the torso, and that he had amphetamine and methamphetamine in his system, the release states.

The Virginia State Police investigated the shootings, using officer and resident interviews, as well as body camera footage. The footage did not show Williams’ movements in the apartment because officers were stationed behind walls and a shield to protect themselves, but it did confirm the night’s events through audio, according to the letter.

When police searched the apartment, they found two guns inside. Although the guns matched the make and model of the guns stolen from the marina, police couldn’t conclusively determine that Williams stole them because their original owner did not have serial numbers for the guns, the letter states.

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