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Family files lawsuit against Canton, officer who fatally shot man during celebratory gunfire

Canton father killed in deadly New Year's officer involved shooting
Posted at 4:43 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 18:48:50-04

CANTON, Ohio — The family of James Williams, 46, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Canton and the police officer involved in his fatal shooting on New Year's Day.

The family's attorneys held a news conference outside the Canton Police Headquarters Wednesday at 12 p.m. Watch it in the media player below:

Williams was fatally shot by Canton police officer Robert A. Huber on New Year's Day while Williams was firing celebratory shots into the air with his rifle behind a wooden fence at his home. Firing shots into the air is a violation of city law.

The wife of James Williams, Marquetta Williams, believes officer Huber acted incorrectly when he fired on the fence without first announcing police were on the scene.

Police body cam video appears to show Huber firing multiple shots into the fence, and after shots were fired, the officer yelled, "Shots fired! Shots fired! Police! Get down now!"

Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation is trying to determine if officer Huber acted properly during the fatal shooting.

According to the lawsuit, the Williams family believes that Huber and the city are responsible for civil rights violations and for alleged excessive use of force.

Marquetta Williams called for Huber to be held accountable for the New Year's Day shooting.

"It’s time for change. It's time for the people to have more power and say so over those we govern as our protectors. It's time we channel our pains and losses to change for quality. Time for all to be held accountable for our actions equally, no matter the color of our skin tone. Black lives matter as does all lives. Black lives are truly unprotected and unrespected. And it is time we stand and fight back and demand our respect. So I know I will fight today, tomorrow and every day until I have no breath left. Because my family today, maybe yours tomorrow," she said Wednesday.

To read the lawsuit, click here.

News 5 has reached out to the Canton Police Department for a statement Tuesday night; they referred us to the Law Department. We reached out to the Law Department Wednesday.

On Wednesday afternoon, Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei released this response to the lawsuit:

"The city of Canton was made aware of the lawsuit through media coverage yesterday. The City of Canton has not yet been served with the lawsuit but obtained a copy of the lawsuit which is being reviewed by the Canton Law Department. Because this is now a pending case, it is not appropriate to comment on it in any extensive manner. 

"We continue to wait for the completion of the BCI investigation, which will be presented to the Stark County Grand Jury. The City’s internal affairs investigation will incorporate the BCI investigation and will be conducted subsequent to the Grand Jury's determination.  Both of these investigative pieces are needed to factually respond to the allegations made in the complaint.

"Our prayers go out to the family of Mr. Williams. The loss of a husband and father and friend under any circumstance is heartbreaking. We sympathize with the family for their loss. "

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation provided this statement to News 5 Wednesday morning:

"BCI's investigation into the officer-involved shooting that occurred on Jan. 1 remains active and ongoing. I do not have a timetable for the investigation - the average OIS investigation takes about 400 hours to complete and varies based on the scope and scale of the incident and the evidence involved. Once completed, BCI's investigation will be referred to the county prosecuting attorney.

BCI investigations into officer-involved critical incidents seek the facts and circumstances of each incident and do not include any determinations of fault. The legality of the actions involved are determined by the prosecutor and/or grand jury."

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