Two South Side brothers and their sister recall the night all three were shot by Chicago police.
“It was like a movie,” says Kierra Williamson, who was shot just after midnight New Year’s morning, 2014, along with her brothers Princeton and Michael, as they attended a party on the South Side. “Everything just happened so fast!”
On Monday, a Cook County jury awarded the three $4.75 million after hearing testimony about the incident, where the two brothers were shot on a back porch by officer Wilfredo Ortiz, and their sister was hit through the open kitchen door.
“The first time I got shot I saw him and that’s when I raised my hands,” Princeton Williamson told NBC 5. “And then he shot me some more!”
The ensuing investigation revealed that the officer fired eleven times after alleging that Michael Williamson pointed a gun at him, and that he feared for his life. Williamson, who was in the Navy at the time and home on leave for the holidays, has denied that account.
“I never had a gun, I never pointed a gun at the police,” he said. “Why would I do that?”
Attorneys Jeffrey Neslund and Michael Robbins, who represented the three siblings, said in actuality, it was another man, Charles Lewis, who had a gun that morning and had been using it to fire off shots in the air celebrating the New Year. They say he dropped the gun and dove through the open kitchen door as he saw police approaching. And that it was only at that point that Ortiz opened fire.
“You know there was no justification to fire 11 shots into that crowd and through the open back door,” Neslund said, noting that such a move is actually a violation of departmental policy. “You cannot shoot into a residence through an open door, it’s common sense---you don’t know who’s on the other side.”
The Independent Police Review Authority ruled the shooting justified. Ortiz remains on the force.
“IPRA never interviewed Michael, Kierra, or Princeton Williamson, the three people who were shot,” Robbins said. “They never interviewed any of the 17 civilian witnesses at the scene.”