Six North Carolina officers on administrative leave after man dies in police custody

In this screengrab from a bodycam video released by the Raleigh Police Department, officers hold Darryl Tyree Williams to the ground.
In this screengrab from a bodycam video released by the Raleigh Police Department, officers hold Darryl Tyree Williams to the ground. Photo credit: Raleigh Police Department

Six Raleigh, North Carolina, police officers are on administrative leave and an investigation is underway after a man died in their custody last month, according to statements and newly released videos from the Raleigh Police Department.

Darryl Tyree Williams, 32, died in a Raleigh hospital in the early hours of January 17 after a scuffle with police during which he was tased multiple times by police officers and arrested.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an independent criminal investigation and will present its findings to the Wake County District Attorney, Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said in a memo to City Manager Marchell Adams-David several days after Williams' death.

A Wake County judge authorized Friday's release of footage from the officers' body cameras, as well as area surveillance footage and patrol vehicle dash camera videos connected to the incident.

In this screengrab from bodycam video released by the Raleigh Police Department, a police officer shines a flashlight into a car with Darryl Tyree Williams in the driver's seat.
In this screengrab from bodycam video released by the Raleigh Police Department, a police officer shines a flashlight into a car with Darryl Tyree Williams in the driver's seat. Photo credit: Raleigh Police Department

'Proactive patrols' lead to an arrest

According to the memo and body camera footage, officers were conducting "proactive patrols" of businesses in an area that police said has a history of criminal violations, at roughly 1:55 a.m.

In the video, officers J.T. Thomas and C.D. Robinson are seen pulling into the parking lot before approaching a vehicle and speaking to its occupants.

Robinson then walks across the parking lot to another vehicle occupied by two people, including Williams, who was in the driver's seat.

The officer then opens the passenger door and questions what the occupants are doing before asking Williams and the passenger to exit the vehicle. According to the memo, Robinson allegedly saw an open container of alcohol and marijuana in the car.

In the video, Williams and the unidentified passenger can be heard repeatedly asking Robinson why they were being removed from the car.

"What's going on?" Williams asked several times as Robinson positioned him against his car to conduct a full body search.

"Keep both of your hands on the car. If you can't listen to my instructions, I'm going to put you in handcuffs," Robinson says in the video. "I'm not trying to put you in handcuffs."

By that point -- about a minute into the encounter -- Robinson had not told Williams why he was being searched.

Moments later, Robinson is seen pulling a folded dollar bill out of Williams' side pocket, and indicates in the video he has detected a white powdery substance folded into the bill.

Williams heard telling officers about heart problems

According to the memo, Robinson decided to arrest Williams for possession of a controlled substance, based upon his findings at the scene.

Williams is heard asking "why" and "what's going on" as Robinson attempts to place him in handcuffs. Another officer attempts to help Robinson and Thomas detain Williams, as they yell at him to "get on the ground" while another officer calls for back-up.

Robinson then deployed his taser, which contacted Williams as he attempted to flee, while the other officers continue to yell at him to put his hands behind his back.

Another taser was deployed but did not make contact, according to police.

After a physical scuffle, Williams tried to escape the officers again but lost his balance and fell while attempting to run across the parking lot.

A taser was deployed again at this point, which police said also did not contact Williams.

An officer is heard yelling at Williams to "get on the f***king ground" while officers appeared to put their body weight on top of him to prevent the man from getting up.

Robinson and Thomas deployed two separate tasers in "drive stun mode" which both contacted Williams in about a 50-second time span, police said.

According to the memo, the taser deployed by Thomas contacted Williams' side while Robinson's taser contacted the left side of Williams' back.

Williams appeared to be audibly and visibly in distress as the officers continued yelling at him to stay on the ground with his hands behind his back, the video shows.

"Put your hands behind your back or you're gonna get tased," one of the officers said.

At this point, Williams is heard saying he has "heart problems" as he begged for officers to stop.

An officer then counted down from three before deploying his taser again.

Williams is then heard screaming and seen wriggling underneath the officers who were still yelling at him to put his hands behind his back.

At that point, officers put Williams in handcuffs as an "unintended Taser activation" is heard but did not make contact, according to police.

Robinson is heard telling the other officers to pat down Williams as officers attempt to reposition him into a "recovery" position.

Another officer is heard telling Williams to "relax."

Officers asked if Williams was breathing

Police then requested EMS response at 2:02 a.m., which is in accordance with policy, the memo said.

Moments later, an officer is heard asking if Williams is "still good" and if he's "still breathing."

An officer is heard saying he doesn't feel Williams' pulse as other officers attempted to wake him.

"He's breathing," one officer is heard saying. "He's good."

Officers then removed the taser probes from Williams' body before asking again if he was breathing.

Officers did not detect a pulse and began performing CPR on Williams.

They then made another call to dispatch requesting expedited EMS response at 2:06 a.m.

Raleigh Fire Department responders then arrived on scene and took over performing CPR, according to the video.

The video footage ends before the ambulance arrived on scene.

It's unclear if police were able to locate the passenger of the vehicle, who appeared to flee the scene.

"Mr. Williams was transported by EMS to a local hospital where he was later pronounced deceased at 3:01 a.m. The cause of Mr. Williams' death, including toxicology results, will be part of the ongoing investigations," according to the memo.

Police recovered two firearms, marijuana and suspected controlled substances from Williams' vehicle, the memo reads.

Officers placed on administrative leave

Officers Robinson, Thomas, D.L. Aquino, J.R. Scott, D.L. Grande and B.L. Ramge have been placed on administrative leave, according to the memo.

In a statement to CNN, Dawn Blagrove, the executive director of Emancipate NC, a criminal justice advocacy group advocating for Williams' family, said the family "demands undelayed justice."

"That's what his mother wants the world to know. Justice, not just for Darryl Tyree Williams but, for all the victims of state sanctioned violence across the nation," Blagrove said.

"Now is the time for the city of Raleigh and all of America to reckon with the trauma and harm that policing causes to Black, Brown and marginalized communities," Blagrove told CNN.

CNN has reached out to the Raleigh Police Department, the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation, and the Wake County Medical Examiner's Office on Saturday.

The Raleigh Police Protective Association, which represents two of the officers involved in the incident, told CNN in a statement its "prayers and thoughts are with the Williams family," and that it has reviewed the video of the "tragic incident."

"At this point we could not determine any criminal actions or policy violations of the officers involved. We respect the process and recognize this incident is currently under investigation by the SBI," RPPA Vice President Rick Armstrong said in the Saturday statement.