CANTON – The family of James Williams has issued a statement indicating they intend to file a lawsuit over his death at the hands of a Canton police officer.
Thursday's statement follows the release of a report that publicly revealed the name of the officer who fired at Williams, Robert Huber.
"On behalf of Marquetta Williams, as well as the entire Williams family, we have learned that the City of Canton has released the name of the police officer involved in the killing of James Williams on January 1, 2022, as Robert A. Huber," according to the family's attorneys Blakemore, Meeker & Bowler.
The family's statement said it hired the firm to hold the officer and the city accountable for James' death. They intend to file a lawsuit alleging civil rights and wrongful death violations, the attorneys said.
City officials withheld the officer's name for 39 days, the statement said. It questions Canton's transparency and what the community and family should expect, including sincerity of the Stark County Prosecutor's Office and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
According to the city officials, the officer's name was not previously released because he is considered an uncharged suspect.
"We are aware that the City of Canton has attempted to implement the '8 Can’t Wait' standards for use by their police department. These policies require de-escalation, a warning before shooting, and an exhaustion of all alternatives before shooting," according to the family's statement.
Huber reportedly "attempted no de-escalation; he provided no warning before shooting, and instead of exhausting all alternatives, Officer Huber simply shot James Williams without provocation."
Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei issued a statement Friday noting the ongoing investigation by Ohio BCI.
"They are not controlled in any way by the city of Canton and any questions about the investigation should be directed to them," he said. "The Williams' family is asking for a fair, impartial, and unbiased investigation and the city is relying on BCI/(Ohio attorney general) to provide the same."
He said the city is waiting to examine the BCI results before launching any disciplinary review or internal investigation, adding that because of the pending criminal investigation and potential litigation that it wouldn't be appropriate to comment further.
"Mr. Williams' death is of course horrifying and terribly distressing to the family and they naturally want justice," he said. "They naturally want immediate action on their demand for justice. Justice requires, however, as a first step a full investigation of the case to be completed by the state of Ohio Bureau of Investigation (BCI), the Stark County prosecutor and the Stark County grand jury.
"Our prayers go out to the family of Mr. Williams. This is a heartbreaking loss of a husband and father and friend. We sympathize with the family for their loss."
The mayor also said that Stark County NAACP President Hector McDaniels has been appointed to the city's Community Relations Commission "to add more transparency" to future citizen-police incidents.
The NAACP has pushed for more transparency in the case.
"Transparency is the single most important element in getting to justice ...," the organization said in a news release Friday. "This clear view can provide a hurting community with a sense of openness, fairness, honesty, accuracy, clarity, and truth. The Williams’ family deserve the truth, the community deserves the truth, all deserve the truth. The truth is the only way to justice. The Williams family deserve justice."
Steve Irwin, press secretary for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, declined to comment. "The BCI does not have any comment on this case as our criminal investigation remains active and ongoing."
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This article originally appeared on The Repository: Family of James Williams, killed by Canton police, planning lawsuit