CANTON, Ohio — The family of 46-year-old James Williams believes the Canton officer involved in his shooting death shouldn't be reporting to the Canton detective bureau during the independent investigation into the incident.
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.
Police body cam video then appears to show officer Huber firing multiple shots into the fence, and after shots were fired, announcing police were in the scene.
Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation is trying to determine if officer Huber acted properly during the fatal police shooting.
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.
Williams also believes having officer Huber report to the detective bureau for light duty during his administrative leave indicates the City of Canton is not taking the BCI independent investigation seriously.
“It makes me outrageously angry and livid, it’s been over 60 days," Williams said. “To come to find out that I hear he’s been working since Jan. 16, that’s absurd, he shouldn’t be working .”
“They’re not cooperating and what I want them to do is cooperate, do what you need to do, which number one is fire him. Give us our investigation, let us know what’s going on.”
Williams Family Attorney Blaise Meeker told News 5 he believes the City of Canton needs to be more transparent during the investigation.
“Officer Huber was redacted from the incident report prior to it being provided to the Law Director, and now we’ve determined officer Huber is back on the job,” Meeker said. “It is disturbing, it’s disheartening, and the actions of the City of Canton and the Canton Police Department have spoken louder than their words.”
“He should not be back on the job in any way, shape, or form. He shouldn't be on the premises, he should be on paid administrative leave like the Williams family was informed, he shouldn't be behind a desk, he shouldn’t be working and getting paid until this BCI report comes in and there’s a determination."
But Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo made it clear he's following proper administrative leave protocol while the BCI investigation continues and issued the following statement:
"Officer Huber is not working as a detective. He is on restricted duty and he is at a desk in the detective bureau where we put all officers on light or restricted duties. The only connection is the detective buraeu supervision is responsible for his time and attendance paperwork.
He is not doing police investigations of any kind. He is doing office type work, answering phones and assisting with paperwork.
I have seen on social media that he was given a promotion and a pay raise, nothing is further from the truth. We have a fiduciary responsibility to tax payers to garner some type of work for the money he is being paid. I'm sure if you check with other large departments they use restricted duty the same as we are."
Ohio Attorney General spokesman Steve Irwin issued the following statement in response to News 5 questions concerning a completion date in the ongoing BCI investigation.
"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."
Meanwhile, Meeker said he's preparing to file a civil lawsuit in federal court sometime next week on behalf of the Williams family against the City of Canton and its police department for alleged excessive use of force and civil rights violations.
As she continues to wait for a ruling in the case, Marquetta Willams has set up a memorial web pageand GoFundMe account in honor of her late husband.
“It’s been over 60 days, what’s taking so long. It was an open and shut case, what’s taking so long, you saw the body cam," Williams said.
“This officer, he was the jury, the judge and the prosecutor on something that shouldn’t have had to end this way. All that you had to do was knock."