LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The family of Byron Williams, who died in 2019 after an encounter with Las Vegas police officers, is filing a lawsuit and they will have help from the same attorney who helped George Floyd's family.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who was also involved in the Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and Ahmaud Arberry cases, appeared at a press conference on Thursday morning in Las Vegas.
“24 times he said I can't breathe. And they're laughing and making jokes. In many ways, it might be worse than George Floyd, “said Crump.
The federal civil lawsuit says Byron Williams said those words approximately 24 times while handcuffed and prone out on his stomach. Previous reports up to this point had the number at 17.
A civil lawsuit against the City of Las Vegas and four police officers, on behalf of the family of Byron Williams, is being announced right now in a press conference. Family members are wearing shorts with Byron’s picture. #tvreporter #mmjlife #lasvegas #nevada @KTNV pic.twitter.com/nhbYh3VGTF— Astrid Méndez (@astridmendeztv) July 15, 2021
Relatives of Williams and Floyd were also at the press conference and could not hold back tears while talking about Williams' death.
“What I saw was the inhumane treatment of my uncle for not being given proper care,“ expressed Teena Acree, Williams’ niece.
“Police brutality is real and the death cannot speak up for themselves, so is our duty to do so for them,“ said Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd.
The coroner's office said Williams died from meth intoxication with other medical conditions and prone restraint.
The police officers involved in the incident were not charged with any crime.
“We cannot silence people's voices; we need the transparency. The Las Vegas Police Department committed an atrocious act to cover up what happened. They turned off their body-worn cameras not for a minute, not for 2 minutes, but for over 10 minutes,“ said Antonio Romanucci, civil rights attorney.
However, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department did update its policies to underscore field procedures that were in place after the incident.
Patrol officers attempted to stop Williams on Sept. 5, 2019, for riding a bicycle without a light.
He failed to stop and tried to get away on his bike.
The officers caught up with him at an apartment complex near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Bonanza Road.
While he was prone out on his stomach, he complained that he could not breathe. Medical was summoned and Williams was later pronounced deceased at Valley Hospital.
The LVMPD Force Investigation Team investigated the incident and the findings were forwarded to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office for review.
The district attorney’s office determined, “no criminal prosecution of the officer(s) involved in the referenced case is appropriate.”
Separately, the LVMPD’s Critical Incident Review Team reviewed the incident to analyze if there were any issues with the officers’ application of policy, tactics and training.
Police say their findings led to several changes in the department.