State Attorney Finds Atmore Officer Involved Shooting In Walnut Hill Was Justified

December 31, 2009

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The State Attorney’s Office has found that the shooting of a suspect by the Atmore Police Department after a chase that ended in Walnut Hill last May was justified.

Danny Ray Williams, 33, died May 25 from wounds he received when he was shot by Atmore Police early Sunday morning, May 24 in Walnut Hill. Atmore Police said Williams was seen leaving the scene of a shots fired call in Atmore when they gave chase. That chase came to an end on Highway 97 just south of Kansas Road when officers fired on Williams’ car after they say he attempted to run over them.

Assistant State Attorney John Molchan reached the following conclusion in the case:

readreport.jpg“When Danny Williams made the decision to look for more beer while driving an automobile with a SAL of .228, he placed himself and other members of the public in danger of death or great bodily harm because of his impairment. The risk increased significantly when he attempted to elude the Atmore police officers after running through a stop sign and reaching speeds of nearly 100 mph in the middle of the night. Furthermore, the patient care report from the Atmore ambulance service indicates poor weather conditions also existed. An entry in the report says, “air transport unavailable due to weather.” When Danny Williams lost control of his car and ended up in the field, he could have chosen to surrender. Instead, he continued his efforts to elude the police and placed then in danger of imminent death or great bodily harm. He could have chosen to obey their commands but, as his passenger said, “he couldn’t get any more DUl’s.” It was a series of poor decisions by Mr. Williams that ultimately resulted in his unfortunate death. Based on the totality of the circumstances, it is the opinion of the Office of the State Attorney that the actions of the officers were reasonable. It was reasonable for the officers to attempt to stop Mr. Williams after he ran the stop sign. It was reasonable for them to pursue him after information suggested his car might contain a wanted felon who may have been involved in the “shots fired” incident that had occurred in the same area only moments before. When Mr. Williams drove at the shootphootos.jpgofficers in the field, it was reasonable for them to be in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm not only for themselves but for other officers in the vehicle’s path.”Therefore, it is the opinion of the Office of State Attorney that, the Atmore, Alabama police officers were justified in using deadly force against Mr. Danny Williams.”

To read the complete, detailed report from the State Attorney’s Office, click here (7 page pdf)

Pictured above and below: The scene of a shooting involving an Atmore Police Department officer early May 24 in Walnut Hill. Pictured middle: Crime scene investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement work to recover evidence inside the car. Pictured bottom: FDLE investigators returned to the scene four days after the shooting. NorthEscambia.com exclusive photos, click to enlarge.  

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Comments

39 Responses to “State Attorney Finds Atmore Officer Involved Shooting In Walnut Hill Was Justified”

  1. Why? on January 7th, 2010 5:31 pm

    By someone who is studying the Criminal Justice field, I think they had many of good reasons to do what they did. No matter what. He was way over the SAL level. He was putting everybodys’ life in danger. He could’ve listened to the commands of the officers but he did not. The officers could think that he had some type of lethal weapon with him so that makes it worse as well. I think what they did was fair.

  2. Billy on January 7th, 2010 9:59 am

    Taking the time to attempt to disable a car can get you killed. If you are in fear for your like…..then you are in fear for your life. Obviously the officers were within the law and justified in their actions. Its over….quit judging.

  3. "Sabrina's" friend on January 7th, 2010 4:27 am

    As for the person who claims to have known ‘Sabrina’. If you were really knew ‘Sabrina’ then you would not of called her by that name. Even Danny NEVER introduced her as ‘Sabrina’. You sit there and make comments about her but you have no IDEA what she went through when he wanted to go out. He would find a way to go out driving and if you were really friends with them then you should know that!!!! He would drive to nowhere in paticular, he just liked to drive and be on the roads. When he got the itch to run the roads, NO ONE could stop him..

    Don’t get me wrong. It was wrong of Danny to run from the APD.. but I also believe that they could of disabled the vehicle instead of making head shots. I saw the car after the incident and believe me, there was no bullet holes lower than the HEAD level. Wat happened to disabling the car??

  4. Danny's Cousin on January 6th, 2010 8:47 pm

    I hesitate to comment due to the blatant disrespect some of you seem to have. If you were not involved or you do not know Danny personally, then your comments are unwarranted. NO ONE but the other person in the car (I’ll be respectful unlike someone and leave names out), the officers, and the family, know what really happened that night. Reading this article and all the others that were posted from May till now will NEVER give you the full story. I would love to sit here and give you all the facts based on the facts/police reports that I’ve seen in black and white, but you’re not worth it.

    Was Danny wrong for fleeing…YES. Was he over the legal limit of intoxication…YES. Was he speeding…YES. Did he have previous DUI’s…YES. Was he irresponsible and reckless…YES. Did he deserve to die for these actions…NO!!!!!!

    I lived with Danny and Sabrina (as someone rudely pointed out as to who his girlfriend was) in their home for 4 months prior to his death. I happen to know Sabrina quite well. Do I blame her at any point for this…H*LL NO!!! She was always the one begging him not to drive drunk, but there was NO telling him otherwise. If you knew her like you say you do you would know that. I got in several fights with him over this very subject, I would take his keys, but every time he would drive and we always got to where we needed to be safe and sound. Am I saying because we got there okay that it makes it right…not by any means.

    Like someone pointed out if you look at the pictures Danny was in NO way trying to run over the cops or continue attempting to flee. He was obviously not going anywhere at that point. He was shot in the back of the head…not the arm…not the leg…not the side…not the chest…BUT THE HEAD!!! WHY?!?!?!? Yes, he was wrong, but he did not deserve to die?
    I’m glad those of us family members have closure to a certain degree but we will NEVER forget this tragedy and we will NEVER forget Danny for who he truly was apart from the unfortunate event that took his life too early. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him still, but I’m happy to say that this chapter is closed never to be opened again. So move on with your lives and let the family members of Danny Williams and Danny rest in peace.
    I LOVE YOU CUZ ALWAYS AND FOREVER ! ! !

  5. bleh on January 4th, 2010 3:58 pm

    This is right wing racist web site

  6. none of your business on January 3rd, 2010 6:07 pm

    Sorry about all the typos, I should have proofed. Just like you my mind
    gets ahead of my fingers. I also have mild parkinson so that makes
    a difference.

    Sorry

  7. billy on January 3rd, 2010 10:56 am

    WELL SAID AC

    Megan…you are completely wrong. I don’t know where you got your information from but its not correct. They don’t have to ask permission. They are allowed to pursue someone into another state and after catching them, they can detain them for up to 45 minutes (U.S. Supreme Court) while waiting for an agency of that state to arrive and make the arrest.

  8. AC on January 2nd, 2010 8:56 pm

    I really think it would really do people well to read the article above, and where it is written: “To read the complete, detailed report from the State Attorney’s Office, click here (7 page pdf)”, CLICK THERE and read the freaking report. That way posters like Megan Dennis, I Just Don’t Understand, Char, and others would not look so “uninformed” when they post.

  9. Megan Dennis on January 2nd, 2010 5:09 pm

    The atmore police were wrong because when the got to the florida line they were SUPPOSE to call the florida police and notified them and ask for permission to cross the line and if they gave them the permission then they could have continued to persue after the victims. They just let them got away with murder.

  10. AC on January 2nd, 2010 1:59 pm

    Char:
    If you really know a better way to handle situations like this, I’m sure the law enforcement community, as well as the entire nation would LOVE to hear it! Since these type of situatuions have been studied by professionals for years and no definitive solution has yet been found, I’m sure that since you, in your ultimate wisdom, have found a viable solution, they would love to know it. You could teach classes on the subject and your inventive solution at colleges and police academies. As you can tell by the wide range of opinions posted here, it’s always been a “dam*ed if you do, dam*ned if you don’t” problem (pardon my language). There are horror stories that support all sides of these chase/don’t chase situations. So I sincerly hope (but seriously doubt) that you have a real solution, as opposed to merely the opinion of someone who is obviously anti-police. But at any rate, Danny Williams did not die that night because he was impaired and ran from the police, he died that night because he put other lives in jeopardy including the police officers. In my opinion, if ANYONE has that little regard for human life, then I don’t have to care about their life anymore. Your original post asked the question “If you flee a dui, should your punishment be death(?)” Probably not, but if you intentionally try to kill other people, even police officers, should your punishment be death? YES! Especially if that death is in committed in self defense, as it was here. Instead of blaming the police by statements such as “When the officers got out of their cars and stood infront (sic) of this car, they set the whole thing in motion.” Try putting the blame where it should lie, on the person who tried to run over them. Using your logic, would you put the victim of a rape at fault because she dressed provocatively? Would the victim of a robbery be at fault because they had money? Would you put the victim of a burglary/homicide at fault because they were home? Would the victim of domestic violence be at fault because she said something that made her drunk, abusive husband mad and he beat her within inches of her life? The crime may not have occurred except for the actions of the victims, but were they the ones in the wrong, or was it the person who actually COMMITTED the crime? Blaming the police who killed someone in self defense is one of the most asinine things I have ever heard.

  11. none of your business on January 2nd, 2010 10:06 am

    hey judy,
    how about all the guys who stop at the tom thumb on the way home and
    buy beer, then start cracking them before they even leave the parking lot.
    They drive down 97 at high rates of speed too, what should we do about
    them.
    Ok I know, lets shoot them ALL!

  12. none of your business on January 2nd, 2010 9:56 am

    oh so I’m simple minded! lol

  13. JUDY C. MASEK on January 2nd, 2010 9:42 am

    to think that that the unfortunate mr. williams was merely “shot to death for being drunk” demonstrates a certain lack of insight and, dare i say, simplemindedness…..according to the assis. state attorneys statement, derived from ALL of the facts, the officers proceeded w/appropriate and necessary measures in response to a highly volatile, fast moving situation……they had a desperate drunk driver, w/a substantial history of DUIs, fleeing from a “shots fired” location, quite possibly w/a known felon in the vehicle, as well…the officers were, most assuredly, using sound critical thinking skills, in my opinion……poor decision making (ALONG w/being intoxicated), solely on the part of mr williams, equals a poor outcome…

  14. char on January 2nd, 2010 8:12 am

    you know … stop and think about this ppl.

    I have driven by the bar in this town on a saturday night or friday night
    and saw 30 or 40 vehicles in their. At closing time they ALL pull out
    and go home and don’t tell me they aren’t drunk and they all have
    designated drivers.

    The cops drive by all the time, and do nothing about that?

  15. char on January 2nd, 2010 7:58 am

    G dude
    I don’t think anything anyone did was necessary thats all.
    I also don’t believe the guy probably would have been doing 100 if
    he hadn’t been chased.
    Impaired means your not thinking well with all your faculties, and for
    the person who thought it was his girlfriends fault, I got news, you
    can’t argue with a drunk. Try being married to one sometime. I was
    for 6 years, and he did what he pleased. If I had tried to stop him
    he would have beat the crap out of me, and not even remembered it
    the next day.
    Did I say he did right. No, But I have lived all over the world and
    seen much better ways of handling this type of thing.
    Why didn’t they just turn off their lights and follow from a distance.
    He probably would have thought they were gone and they could have
    pulled in behind him anywhere and trapped him with their cars,

    If you think one car running down 97 at 100 is that dangerous, how
    about three cars doing that. How did that make any unsuspecting driver
    who happened to turn out onto 97 safer?

    You all love to not see any point but your own, especially from an
    outsider.

    So why ask me questions?
    This guy was one of your own. He was a neighbor, he was probably
    a brother to someone, not me of course. He was also a human being.
    I don’t like seeing anyone shot to death for being drunk. Thats all, and
    I stand behind my opinion that there was a better way!

    I

  16. Mike Hall on January 1st, 2010 10:04 pm

    Simple rules. When the police lights go ON then you STOP.

    If the driver had stopped his car he would be alive today. His family would not have had to go through so much pain.

    Everyone involved would have rather just had a ticket for him to pay and that would have been the end of it. Worse case he would have had to have someone sober drive him home.

  17. JohnMolino on January 1st, 2010 7:31 pm

    Because of these brave Police officers actions, I believe lives were actually saved that fateful day. Could have been any of us on the road that night,with our loved ones,on the way home to our families,firefighters responding to an emergency etc etc etc…

    He had many choices to make.Good choices and bad choices…there appears to be a preponderance of evidence suggesting all he did was choose the bad ones. There is all kinds of Justice in this world we live in. Our Justice and his Justice. It appears Justice met up with him that night because of his actions.

  18. gdude on January 1st, 2010 4:47 pm

    Char – so you believe that it is appropriate for the police to “wait for him to drive home” while he is driving around intoxicated? I guess you feel it is appropriate for him to put OTHERS in danger…he could have hit an innocent driver and killed them while riding around drunk.

  19. wh on January 1st, 2010 1:00 pm

    Just the amount of controversy with all of this story makes a person have questions. But all in all you can finally come to this conclusion for drivers and police alike, dont let this happen again.

  20. Judy on January 1st, 2010 12:09 pm

    I praise these Officers for putting their lives in danger everyday !! I am so thankful that I or anyone else DIDN’T get hurt or killed that night Mr. Williams was out of control, all he had to do was STOP! All anyone has to do is RESPECT and OBEY the LAW!!! Thanks to all the Law Officers that keep us safe!!!!!

  21. Billy on January 1st, 2010 11:45 am

    Why does it matter who they are? Just so people can talk about them and their families? They shouldn’t release their names unless they are arrested or indicted.

  22. William on January 1st, 2010 10:33 am

    anobserver — Nothing is hush-hush. Read the full report.

  23. anobserver on January 1st, 2010 10:31 am

    why has this (or these) officers never been identified? If you listen to other area news reports where a cop has shot someone, they come right on tv and tell who he or she is and tell that they are off duty with pay until further investigation. why is everything in atmore always so hush hush? It is news afterall

  24. char on January 1st, 2010 7:33 am

    They sure could have gotten the license # to this car and then
    just gone to his home and waited for him to pull in!

    And by the way, I have never gotten behind a wheel impaired either,
    but everybody I know has done that at one time or another.

  25. char on January 1st, 2010 7:18 am

    What I was saying with the not getting out of the car if they were in fear for
    their lives is:
    why didn’t they get in front of his car with their cars, and behind him.
    Why get out of your car? That takes longer than just getting in front
    of him so he can’t move.
    Seems more effective to me.

    Sorry you don’t agree with me.
    And by the way I don’t call the cops anymore, they don’t do ANYTHING
    when you do!

  26. bleh on December 31st, 2009 10:00 pm

    So the man is running away from the cops, and they ‘fear for their lives” and shoot him? very suspicious

  27. NF on December 31st, 2009 9:23 pm

    To Bob: some one made the comment that the car belonged to some one else. Going back and “drawing up a warrant” would not work very well would it.

  28. Billy on December 31st, 2009 8:42 pm

    Oh Bob,
    Unfortunately it is not that simple. Ok so you know who the car belongs to. How in the world do you know who was in it. You can only get a warrant on the person who commits the crime. And you know this person is under the influence and a danger to the public…..say they made the choice not to chase and he kept driving and hurt or killed another human. Then people would be saying “Why didn’t those APD officers stop him or wreck him so that he couldn’t continue on”. The risks of not chasing someone are much more great that actually chasing. You don’t know if the person is just running because they are stupid or if they have your wife tied up in the trunk taking her to rape and kill her.
    In my opinion, these departments that don’t chase people (and I know there aren’t many) are ran by fools who are doing the public an injustice by allowing criminals to have the upper hand. ECSO in Alabama is not allowed to chase people who flee. The criminals just need to run up there, they won’t get caught unless they go into a city or get nabbed by a Trooper. Now, don’t get my wrong, there IS a time to end a chase but late at night when there is very light traffic and people are in there homes….this is the most ideal time to chase someone and be safe doing it.

  29. john on December 31st, 2009 7:21 pm

    to the atmore police department. thank you. you guys did a great job. i was on the road that night with my family coming in from vacation. i cant imagine what couldve happened to my family or anyfamily if you havent stopped him. so to that i thank you guys.people dont realize what yall go through. to the shooting officers i pray for you. its not fair that you was put in that situation to where you now have to live with that. but somebody has to be the heroes, thank yall. keep up the good work. any on here that talks negative will call you in a second when they need help. they took an oath to protect us at any cost. once again thank you.

  30. Bob on December 31st, 2009 7:17 pm

    Not taking sides in any way,but lets be realistic. After the officer identified the automobile. Why not go back to the office and have warrants issued for the culprit and take care of this problem the next day. It seems to be a case, of flawed events from the beginning of the chase. I’m not a bleeding heart by any stretch of imagination but I think police chases puts the general public in harms way. The chaser and the chasee are not concerned about anyone but themselves and their glory. I have witnessed many times officers flying 70 to 80 miles per hour in the center lane on main street. If an accident had injured me or my family from this chase someone would pay a tremendous price. Police chases are no good for the public and they should be stopped.

  31. / on December 31st, 2009 5:04 pm

    it was justified selfdefence.if you try to run over an officer then they may use deadly force.simple as that.good job Atmore PD,ESO,AND the state attorney’s office.it was unfourtunate that some one lost their life but that was his decesion.

  32. Never on December 31st, 2009 4:51 pm

    AC: I agree with you.

    For those of you who haven’t yet, I would recommend reading the full State Attorney’s report for clarification of the night.

    The absolute only person who is at fault is Mr. Williams. I have no idea why people always want to put any type of blame on anybody else. But if she had…but if he had…. NO! Put the blame where it lies.

  33. AC on December 31st, 2009 4:06 pm

    To “I Just Don’t Understand”:

    From my understanding, Mr Williams continued driving AFTER he was shot! I believe that is in the original story. That would explain why his vehicle is stuck in the mud. Officers were probably approaching his vehicle from different angles. The one(s) in front had to jump out of the way to avoid being ran over which prompted the others to fire, which would explain the back windshield being shot out. To Char … well, nevermind… you probably wouldn’t comprehend it if i tried to explain it to you. If you truly do not understand why the police got out of their car and approached the bad guy’s car, then nothing I could say would make you understand.

    The cops did their jobs, period! They are not to blame for what this idiot decided to do. They were completely exonerated, as they should have been, and the streets are safer because of their actions. It is unfortunate that they had to wait this long to be cleared and will have to live with the memory of this for the rest of their lives. It is even more unfortunate that there are those in our society that are ignorant of what the police are, and how they are trained to act, and some who will be critical of the police no matter WHAT they do.

  34. just a thought on December 31st, 2009 2:24 pm

    O.K. the conclusion was the shooting was justified – I can live with that – knowing Danny – probably better than any one else involved in the matter – including his girlfriend.

    Seems to me that Sabrina should shoulder some of the blame in this horrible tragedy – after all she let him take HER vehicle knowing that he was intoxicated – if any one is to blame in this matter it is Sabrina Drew for not being responsible and letting him get behind the wheel in the first place.

    Sabrina – why didn’t you drive to the store yourself in your own vehicle?

  35. Dixie Chick on December 31st, 2009 2:19 pm

    Never and Molino Jim,
    I am glad to see someone still believes in what is right. I don’t really see the difference in shooting out the rear window or the front window. Front window would have an even better chance of getting him. The guy deserved what he got. He should have never got behind the wheel. He had no intention of giving up.

  36. molino jim on December 31st, 2009 1:48 pm

    To Never: You are 100 % right.. I wonder what the people who are upset by the finds feelings would be if they had been T’ boned when this fellow ran the stop sign and they were crippled or had a family member or friend killed or destroyed for life. There is a very simple answer to what to do. STOP for the blue light and go to court and hope for the best. 100 mile per hour plus speed on wet roads was putting every one in danger. I’m sorry for the fellows family—but more sorry for the officers who had to take a life.

  37. Never on December 31st, 2009 1:07 pm

    I have NEVER in my ENTIRE life gotten behind the wheel of a car after having EVEN ONE drink. I am responsible enough to have a designated driver if I intend on drinking outside of my residence. Do I think there should be a death sentence for doing so? No! Do I think this guy should not have ran from the cops? Definately! The fact is, no matter what anybody’s opinion is, the investigating agencies have done their jobs and declared that the officers’ actions were justified. They’re the ones that have to look at the facts (and actually have the facts–not rumors–or opinions) and make that determination.

    Also, what should the officers have done if not get out of their car? Sit it out in their patrol vehicle and wait for the drunk to fall asleep before taking him into custody? If you don’t like the way police officers do their job, be sure not to call them when you need one. The officers DID NOT set anything in motion. They did their jobs. The drunk/fleeing-the-cops/no-care-for-others in society/CRIMINAL set it in motion.

  38. I Just Don't Understand on December 31st, 2009 12:38 pm

    Looking at the picture, this car is stuck deep in the mud and the rear window is shot out. Not the windshield. If the guy was trying to run the officers over, I would expect the windshield to be shot out. Also, with the car stuck up to its axle in mud, it can’t have been moving very fast.

  39. char on December 31st, 2009 12:08 pm

    my problem with this is:
    These officers got out of their vehicles and stepped in front of a drunks car.
    WHY!
    Then because this guy they already knew was going to run, tried to run
    again they shot and killed him and said they were in fear of their lives.
    If they were in fear of their lives, why did they get out of their cars and step
    in front of his?

    If you flee a dui, should your punishment be death.
    How many of you have never ever in your entire life, got behind a wheel
    of a car when you where impaired. Should you have been shot to death?

    When the officers got out of their cars and stood infront of this car, they
    set the whole thing in motion.

    Just my opinion





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