CANTON, Ohio — Family and friends paused to remember James Williams with a vigil in front of his Canton home on Friday, on what would have been his 48th birthday.
Williams was shot and killed by Canton police officer Robert A. Huber, as Williams was firing his rifle into the air behind a high wooden fence at his home in celebration on New Years Eve 2021. Investigators said officer Huber fired eight shots into the fence killing Williams while responding to a neighborhood complaint.
A Stark County Grand Jury decided not to indict officer Huber in the case, and investigations by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Canton Police concluded officer Huber acted properly and not outside Canton police protocol.
Marquetta Williams, her family and family friend Wilmena O'Neal agreed Williams broke the law by firing his rifle into the air, but believe officer Huber should have faced criminal charges for firing into the fence without first announcing his presence at the scene .
“What James did was a misdemeanor, understand that," O'Neal said. "What Robert Huber did was a felony and there is nobody saying anything about that.”
Williams said in seeking justice for her husband she's also seeking changes in both city and state law when it comes to use-of-force and required training for police officers. Williams said if an officer has a record of use-of-force investigations it should be more difficult for officers to simply resign from their jobs and take another job with a different police department.
“It shouldn’t happen, if you have a background of numerous complaints on your record of wrong doing in use-of-force, you shouldn't be able to move from department to department every time something happens," Willams said. “I know Canton now has a new police chief, I would tell him we didn’t get justice, do your job, hold your officers accountable and we’re seeking transparency still. Protocol and training need to be examined further, they need more detailed training.”
In March of 2022, the Williams family filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against the City of Canton and office Huber for civil rights violations and excessive use-of-force. The family said it plans to take further legal action in the coming months, but declined to comment on what that will be at this time.