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Death of N.C. man shocked three times with a Taser is classified as a homicide

The state's autopsy report found Darryl Tyree Williams died from “sudden cardiac arrest” related to cocaine intoxication and the January police confrontation in Raleigh.
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/ Source: The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — The January death of a North Carolina man repeatedly shocked by police with a Taser has been classified as a homicide, according to a state autopsy report released Wednesday.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Darryl Tyree Williams, 32, died Jan. 17 from “sudden cardiac arrest in the setting of cocaine intoxication, physical exertion, conducted energy weapon use, and physical restraint.” A toxicology analysis in part detected cocaine and a chemical that’s contained in marijuana in his blood, the report said.

The Raleigh Police Department said its officers were trying to arrest Williams around 2 a.m. for possession of a controlled substance.

This screengrab shows the arrest in Raleigh, N.C., of Darryl Tyree Williams, who died after being struck repeatedly with stun guns on Jan. 17, 2023.  Williams, 32, died at a hospital after being confronted and handcuffed by officers in a southeast Raleigh neighborhood, according to the report by Police Chief Estella Patterson.
A video still shows the arrest in Raleigh, N.C., of Darryl Tyree Williams, who died after he was struck repeatedly with stun guns on Jan. 17.City of Raleigh via AP

Several officers were placed on administrative leave, and the State Bureau of Investigation conducted a probe into what happened. The SBI has submitted its case file to Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who will determine whether criminal charges are appropriate, SBI spokesperson Angie Grube said.

Williams’ family has called on officials to fire officers and charge them in his death. In a news release, attorneys for the family said that the autopsy confirms that “Darryl’s death was a direct result of excessive and unreasonable police force.”

“We will work tirelessly to ensure that those responsible for this senseless loss of life are held accountable” and that there are “meaningful changes” implemented to prevent similar future deaths, the release said.

Raleigh Police Lt. Jason Borneo said late Wednesday the autopsy report will be reviewed by Freeman, and officers involved in the matter are on leave. He declined additional comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Police have said they were trying to arrest Williams after they found a folded dollar bill with white powder in his pocket.

Police said two officers stunned Williams with a Taser a total of three times as they tried to take him into custody. The autopsy found injuries on his back consistent with stun gun use.

Williams, a Black man, can be heard in body and dashboard camera videos released by police in February protesting that he didn’t do anything and warning that he had a heart problem. Medical records showed he had a history of an unspecified irregular heartbeat, Wednesday’s report said.

Obesity and “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease” also contributed to his death, the report said, adding that Williams also had a “known medical history of obesity and substance (tobacco, marijuana, and cocaine) abuse.”