Just eight days before the verdict that convicted Derek Chauvin, unidentified police officer(s) killed my brother, Matthew “Zadok” Williams in his own home moments after he asked the officers to identify themselves as he kneeled behind a piece of furniture. Like so many others, my brother was killed in broad daylight in his home. On April 12th, 2021, DeKalb County, Georgia police officers approached my brother and asked him to leave his own property. According to the police department, officers assumed that Zadok was a trespasser based on two 911 calls from a woman living in the condo behind Zadok’s condo. These calls have yet to be released.
The police department has released some body camera footage and the media is only showing excerpts of the incident. We are calling on Chief Ramos to set an example by ending the secrecy that is rampant behind the blue line and promoting transparency. In the footage available, Zadok has a mental health crisis outside in an incident involving a knife after walking down his steps and being asked to leave his property. Zadok subsequently retreats into his home through an upstairs window. The police began to kick his door open. Once the door is breached, Zadok immediately kneels behind a cushioned piece of furniture to protect himself from gunshots as he tells the officers that he is defending his property and asks the officers to back up and speak to him through the doorway. Zadok is not a threat, and police begin talking to him telling him that he doesn’t have to die. The absurdity of the comment by officers at the scene reveals the culture of dehumanization that is deeply embedded in departments across the nation. A 911 call should not be synonymous with death for Black people. Instead of backing up and talking to Zadok from the doorway as he requested and helping him, police officers shot into his home and killed him while he was kneeling behind furniture.
The officers and supervisor at the scene left him there for nearly an hour and a half to die. No medical aid was rendered and when SWAT teams and EMS arrived more than an hour after the shooting, my brother was subsequently pronounced dead. My family was notified nearly 24 hours after his death.
Such an egregious disregard for my brother’s life speaks to the culture of policing in DeKalb County and across the country. Police officers are rarely held accountable for killing, harassing and assaulting Black people and my family is committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that these officers are held accountable and that other families in DeKalb County don’t have to endure what we have had to go through.
It’s been a month since police officer(s) murdered my brother Matthew Zadok Williams, and the police officer(s) responsible still have not been held accountable. We don’t even know their full names. Zadok was a remarkable brother, uncle, and son, and he meant the world to our entire family. I strongly urge Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos and Chief Executive Officer, Michael L Thurmond to hold the officers responsible for this ruthless action accountable and to provide my family with answers.
Both Police Chief Ramos and CEO Thurmond have the authority to release all media related to Zadok’s murder, identify the officers to the public, and terminate the officers employment. We want these police officers to be held accountable. This is the first step towards true criminal justice reform here in DeKalb County.
Sign the petition: Tell Police Chief Ramos and CEO Thurmond to terminate the employment of the officer(s) who killed my brother Zadok now!
Update as of August 10th, 2021
The family of Matthew Zadok Williams has been made aware that the GBI has completed their investigation of the April 12, 2021 killing of Matthew Zadok Williams by DeKalb County police Sergeant Devon Perry. On what would have been Matthew Zadok Williams’ 36th birthday on August 3rd, the family instead prepared for their weekly “Wednesday Rally for Justice." The family and community rally at Dekalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston's office every Wednesday at 12:00 p.m. to bring awareness about Matthew Zadok Williams being shot by police in his own home.
The bodycam footage shows that after Sgt. Devon Perry fired shots into Zadok's home, Sgt. Perry orders the police officers to back off. In the hour and a half that follows, Sgt. Devon Perry can be heard admitting that Zadok did not lunge at him with a knife before he fired shots into Zadok’s home. In fact, the bodycam footage shows that Zadok did nothing to justify shots to be fired into his home. After firing those unlawful shots into Zadok's home, Sgt. Devon Perry walked off and left Zadok to die a slow painful death. Sgt. Devon Perry's superior can be heard instructing Sgt. Perry on the phone that he has a duty to render medical aid to Zadok; no medical aid was rendered. In fact, DCFR EMTs were already on the scene responding to a separate incident and inquired about rendering aid to Zadok. EMTs were denied entry into the home! Police officers are heard laughing about Zadok bleeding out in the condo.
Dekalb has released statements indicating that their policy does not allow aid to be rendered until the scene is deemed safe. They say that bunkers were needed to enter Zadok’s condo after he was shot. However, no bunkers were needed when the police kicked his door open and and shot him. The family’s independent preliminary autopsy has revealed that Zadok would have survived if aid would have been rendered. SWAT and EMS arrived nearly an hour and a half later after Zadok was shot, and Zadok was pronounced dead. The family was notified 24 hours later. Zadok’s family is heartbroken!
The family now demands that Dekalb District Attorney Sherry Boston indict and prosecute Sgt. Devon Perry immediately and all the police officers involved in Zadok's senseless murder.