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Las Vegas police say they have updated their field procedures after death of Byron Williams

Family still insisting on justice
Screen shot from LVMD body cam video
Posted at 11:28 AM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 20:15:19-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A fact-finding review was held Friday to review the circumstances surrounding the death of Byron Williams.

PREVIOUS STORY: County officials to hold fact-finding review on Byron Williams' death

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has released the following:

Within six months of the in-custody death of Byron Williams, the LVMPD updated its policies to underscore field procedures that were in place.

Those changes came out following an LVMPD investigation that was released on Friday during Clark County’s Police Fatality Factfinding Review (PFFR).

The PFFR is a factfinding review held when a police-involved death occurs. It is not a trial that will end with any kind of a determination or verdict. Its purpose is simply to lay out the facts of the case and make all of the body-worn camera footage available to the public to be transparent.

13 INVESTIGATES: 'I can't breathe!': Death of man in Vegas police custody still under investigation

Williams’ incident occurred on Sept. 5, 2019, after patrol officers attempted to stop him for a traffic violation while riding a bicycle in the area of Martin L. King Boulevard and Bonanza Road.

Williams initially failed to stop, fled on his bicycle, discarded it when he came to a wall and then ran through the desert for a quarter of a mile.

Officers caught up with him in a nearby apartment complex where he was taken into custody.

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.

Since officers placed Williams’ hands behind his back and placed cuffs on him, that low-level of force, coupled with his death prompted an investigation by the LVMPD Force Investigation Team.

The findings were forwarded to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office for review, which determined that “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.

Their findings led to several changes in the department, to include:

1. At the direction of the Sheriff, a course was developed to reinforce the expectation of ethics, values and professionalism in law enforcement both on-duty and off. The class emphasized for officers to value every human life before, during and after use of force.

2. The LVMPD Use of Force Policy was updated to state that, “Officers will not restrain subjects who are in custody and under control in a manner that compromises their ability to breathe. Prone, handcuffed subjects will be placed in the recovery position” to ensure their airway is not restricted.

3. The LVMPD Body-Worn Camera (BWC) policy was updated to clearly define that BWCs should be turned off “only if officers have cleared the scene and are no longer assigned to the event; and that they have discontinued contact (and are no longer in proximity to) the subjects.”

4. The LVMPD Foot Pursuit Policy to require officers to summon medical attention if a subject is in a prolonged physical encounter with officers, complains of injury, is injured or displays difficulty in breathing.

Click here for the full report.

The attorneys for Byron Williams' family sent the following statements:

"The family of Byron Williams continues to grieve, and we are suffering additionally because of the continued actions of the Las Vegas Police Department. The lack of complete information and the disrespect from their unwillingness to deal openly with us makes it impossible for our family to heal. These officers' actions were deplorable! Their callous treatment of our Ronnie was inhumane! They must be held accountable. We want accountability and justice.”
-Teena Acree, Byron Williams' niece.

"The legal team seeking justice for Byron Williams is further increasing our call for complete transparency and cooperation in this case. Metro continues to hide behind their supposed investigation of the officers to hold back the full facts, videos and reports from the family of Byron Williams. This is unacceptable. This Fact Finding hearing is just the start of transparency, and more steps need to be taken. The Las Vegas Police Department is accountable to not only the family of Mr. Williams but to the broader community, as well. There is no excuse for turning off body cameras so a family cannot get the answers they need."
-Bhavani Raveendran, attorney for Williams' family