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Protestors gather outside Stark Co. Office Building after grand jury declines to indict Canton Police Officer

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Posted at 10:45 PM, Sep 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-07 23:12:40-04

CANTON, Ohio — Canton Police Officer Robert Huber will face no criminal charges in the shooting death of 46-year-old James Williams on New Year’s Day.

The Stark County Prosecutor announced Wednesday that a Stark County grand jury was presented the findings of Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations’ case and given a variety of charges to indict Huber on, but they declined to indict.

“It is important for me to point out that the only way charges on the felony level can be brought is by a grand jury,” said Kyle Stone, the Stark County Prosecutor. “With the grand jury deciding not to indict, no further action will be taken by my office.”

Minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day, Officer Huber responded to the 2300 block of Tenth Street to investigate gunfire. Upon arrival, body camera shows Huber was met with several seconds of gunfire as Williams illegally shot an A-R15 into the air behind a fence. Officer Huber then fires shots into the fence, only announcing his presence after he shot 8 times. Williams died from his injuries.

Ohio BCI took over the case immediately and Stone said they wrapped up their case at the end of May. BCI presented their findings to Stone at the end of June, who said he presented the findings and gave witness testimony to the grand jury for 2 days.

“While I understand this is not the outcome that some people wanted, I want to assure this community that we presented this case in a fair and just manner, presented all the evidence and gave them multiple options for different charges,” he said. “I have exercised due care in this case and didn’t allow public opinion or anything of the sort to sway how we operated and presented this case.”

Shortly after the grand jury’s decision came to light, protestors showed up outside of the prosecutor’s office to have their voices heard.

“For no charges of any kind is absurdity. That’s just nonsense and they have a range of charges from felony murder all the way to manslaughter to other options,” said Skylark Bruce, a Canton resident. “The system did not do its job today and it very rarely does.”

James Williams’ wife was outside the Stark County Offices Wednesday evening but did not have a comment for News 5, however Jason Cousins, Williams’ cousin did tell News 5 they were heartbroken.

“Hurt, disappointed,” he said. “We don’t know who this grand jury is, we don’t know where the grand jury is from, we don’t know their reasons.”

Cousins said Williams is a father whose family is hurting.

“They witnessed their father die from shooting behind a privacy gate in his backyard, without the police saying ‘Stop, put your gun down’ or anything,” said Cousins.

The Williams family filed a federal civil lawsuit against the city of Canton and Huber in March that is ongoing. Colin Meeker is the attorney representing the family, he sent a statement to News 5:

Over the past two weeks, the Stark County Prosecutor presented the tragic death of James Williams by Canton Police Officer Robert Huber to the Stark County Grand Jury. Today, the Williams family is deeply disappointed in the decision not to criminally indict Officer Huber. Since January 1st, 2022, over eight months, the Williams family has had to deal with unimaginable grief and heartache that comes with losing a husband, father, and friend. They have had bad day after bad day, and today is no exception. 

The tragic death of James Williams, who was shot through a fence by Officer Huber without first announcing his presence, was laid out for everyone to see in the released body cam video. James’ death could have been avoided and should have never happened. Although we are unaware of the evidence and testimony presented at the grand jury proceedings, the Williams family looks forward to the future factfinding process and thoroughly reviewing the complete BCI investigation files upon their release by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

 Although the Williams family is saddened that Officer Huber will not have to face criminal charges, the Williams family, and its legal team, are strongly committed to continuing to fight for justice through the civil court system to ensure accountability for those responsible for James’ death. The Williams family will continue to advocate peacefully for police reform to change the system that allowed this tragedy to occur. While the Stark County Prosecutor has failed in obtaining justice for James, we will not stop until we do.

If you’d like to read through BCI’s findings, just click here.

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