CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Newly released video shows the arrest of a 32-year-old Charlotte man before his in-custody death at a hospital last June.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released the video as part of a court-ordered action.
Jovontay Avery Williams, 32, was arrested on June 13, 2022, and later died at a hospital.
State and local officials cleared CMPD of any wrongdoing in the incident.
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The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) completed an investigation of this incident. After SBI turned its results over to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, the agency found no evidence of criminal violations by CMPD officers related to this incident.
Additionally, CMPD Internal Affairs also conducted a parallel investigation and concluded that there were no violations of CMPD policy. The investigation cleared officers of any criminal wrongdoing.
A full medical examiner’s report and toxicology report are still pending.
Police summoned after 911 call, gun casing
According to police, officers responded to a 1:58 a.m. phone call. A caller said she heard gunshots and someone attempting to enter her home on Featherstone Drive. Officers found a spent shell casing and signs of a disturbance.
A neighbor flagged the officer about an unknown person on the backside of his house. They observed Williams attempting to enter the house. Soon after, they located Williams and put him in handcuffs. They used the “soft, empty hands” approach, as detailed in CMPD’s response to the resistance policy, to take him into custody.
In the released video, officers had Williams on his side after a short time on his stomach while searching for weapons.
When they secured the scene, police said they called MEDIC because Williams showed signs of medical distress. While handcuffed on the porch, the suspect told officers he couldn’t breathe, had dizziness, and said he could die.
In the video, Williams is seen breathing on his back. He talks less as the minutes pass. Fire department officials can be seen waiting along with the police for a MEDIC response.
In Thursday’s statement, CMPD said Charlotte Fire Department and MEDIC responded to the scene to assist. Emergency personnel took Williams to Atrium Health University, and then Atrium Health Cabarrus for more intensive care.
The statement also stated that Charlotte MEDIC and the Charlotte Fire Department (CFD) are “currently engaged in an official Medical Incident Review process regarding Mr. Williams’ on-scene care and transport.”
At the scene, officers recovered a firearm they said belonged to Williams, along with a shell casing that was determined to have been fired from this firearm. It was also determined that the initial home was struck by gunfire during the incident.
On June 13, 2022, at 9:56 a.m., Williams was pronounced dead at Atrium Health Cabarrus. Although he died while in the care of medical staff, he was still under arrest and law enforcement personnel were also present. Therefore, CMPD classified the incident as an in-custody death.
Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson released the following statement:
“We take the death of Mr. Williams very seriously and are exploring thoroughly. Everyday, members of Charlotte Fire bravely protect the residents of Charlotte, the place we call home. We are dedicated to our community in service and are resolute in our mission of saving lives. As our community comes together during this difficult time, we hope for peace and healing for the family and loved ones of Mr. Williams.”
Mecklenburg EMS Agency (MEDIC) Executive Director John Peterson released the following statement:
“The very reason for Medic’s existence is to serve our patients with compassion, and we are honored to do so. We have been entrusted with the health and safety of our community and are committed to the Medical Incident Review process that upholds our high standards of care. To the family and loved ones of Mr. Williams, we express our deepest condolences for your loss.”
CMPD Police Chief Johnny Jennings released the following statement:
“Today, we released body-worn camera footage of the interaction on June 13, 2022, between CMPD officers and Mr. Jovontay Williams. Calls for service came in about Mr. Williams shooting into occupied homes and that he was attempting to break and enter into multiple homes. Officers called CMPD dispatch to request medical assistance after observing Mr. Williams was experiencing a medical emergency. They engaged Mr. Williams, took him into custody, and secured Mr. Williams until CFD and MEDIC arrived. Officers went from dealing with a shooting suspect to dealing with someone in a medical emergency and I commend them for being able to transition quickly and manage the suspect as a medical patient in that situation.
I know the subsequent death of Mr. Williams may cause a variety of emotions throughout our community, but I want to ask that our citizens please take a moment to review the totality of the circumstances of this incident which is detailed in our critical incident briefing.
I want to assure our citizens that after thoroughly reviewing the evidence in this case, I am confident that our officers performed their duties appropriately regarding the treatment of Mr. Williams which included seeking a higher level of medical care for him immediately when they realized he was experiencing a medical emergency.
The State Bureau of Investigation investigated this case and determined that CMPD committed no wrongdoing. Internal Affairs also conducted an internal investigation and determined that no policies were violated.
As officers, our sworn duty is to safeguard all lives which we take very seriously. So, when one of our citizens unexpectedly dies, it impacts all of us. It impacts me greatly to know that the Williams’ family is going through such an extremely difficult time. My prayers are with his family.
As with any tragedy, the CMPD staff will continue to consistently evaluate our current practices and implement the most advanced training possible to ensure that we are providing the best police services to our community.”
For further information on this case please refer to the incident report 20220613-0158-02.
Critical Incident Briefing video breaking down BWC footage & explaining the incident in greater detail: https://youtu.be/Ua0g_9wl2Wg
Link to all of the body-worn camera footage captured in this incident: https://youtu.be/U0becJGmJ20
Video outlining proper techniques for in-custody positioning: https://youtu.be/lwk1ygHa24M