A lawsuit has been filed accusing the city of Sumter and its police department of gross negligence and wrongful death after officers shot and killed 35-year-old Waltki Cermoun Williams in December.
Police were chasing Williams after hearing reports he was threatening his girlfriend, according to police.
Officers pursued Williams in his red SUV on Dec. 10 after responding to the Sumter Mall. The chase ended at the intersection of Miller Road and Guignard Drive in Sumter, where Williams crashed into two cars.
Williams threw something at his car's back window and broke it, according to the lawsuit, and escaped out the opening. Police pursued him for about 10 steps before tackling him to the ground, the lawsuit states.
Lawyers for Williams' estate allege Williams was unarmed at this point. While he lay on the ground, at least three Sumter Police Department officers fired their weapons 24 times, hitting Williams 19 times, according to the lawsuit. The shooting "is so extreme and outrageous that it shocks the conscious," lawyers wrote in the suit filed Friday.
Williams was pronounced dead at the scene, the lawsuit states.
Police had responded at about 9:30 p.m. that day after receiving a call that a woman was afraid to leave the mall. Williams, the woman's estranged boyfriend, was seen pointing a gun at her vehicle, according to a statement released at the time of the incident by the department. Police reported Williams' girlfriend had been trying to end their relationship for two months.
The chase began when police arrived at the mall. After Williams crashed "there was a brief struggle and then an exchange of gunfire," according to the police statement. No one else was injured in the incident. A Sumter Police Department spokeswoman said she could not comment because the department has not been served with the suit.
The officers involved were placed on administrative leave at the time, pending the results of an investigation.
There is dash-cam video of the incident, according to a press release from the State Law Enforcement Division. SLED is investigating the officer-involved shooting. The SLED public relations office has not responded to requests for comment.
"This is a tragedy for everyone involved," Sumter Police Chief Russell F. Roark III said in a statement in December. "This incident shows the devastating, far-reaching effects of domestic violence on individuals, families, law enforcement, the Sumter community and the state as a whole."