Montgomery County Police Chief Bernard D. Crooke yesterday defended the actions of two county police officers in the shooting death Saturday of 32-year-old Richard V. Williams on the doorstep of his Wheaton home.
Williams had been holding two other policemen at gunpoint when he was shot three times by Sgt. Ted Parker Jr. and Cpl. William S. Issacs. Crooke said Williams had taken a step toward the two officers lying prone 15 feet away and said, "I'm going to blow your m. . . . . . f. . . . . ass away."
"It's my opinion that the two officeres were legally, morally and administratively 100 percent correct," Crook said at a press conference at police headquarters yesterday in Gaithersburg. "They had an instant to act and made a decision. The officers made the right decision and I'll never waver on that."
Crooke said he was taking the unusual step of calling the homocide justified before the case had been reviewed by a grand jury because of earlier mistatements by the police department and to "clairy" news accounts of the shooting.
On Saturday and Sunday, police gave a different version of events, saying that Parker and Issacs shot Williams because he was pointing his gun toward them. Yesterday, Crooke reiterated a statement he made Monday that Williams did not point his gun at Parker and Issacs and that Parker and Issacs shot Williams because Williamms had pointed his gun toward Officers Timothy Delaney and Bryan McManus.
Accounts given by neighbors and relatives disputed the first police version of the incident, claiming that Williams had been hit in the back by the hail of shotgun fire.
In an autopsy completed Sunday, the Maryland medical examiner's office found that Williams died of shotgun wounds on the left arm and left side of his body.
"If you look at the back you'll see pellet holes, but the direction of the trajectory was from his side," said assistant medical examiner Dr. Virginia Dolan.
The case is being investigated by the department's internal affairs section and by the county's crimes against persons section, which yesterday sent its report to the state's attorney's office.
"It was the cleanest police shooting I've ever seen. Period. The end. You can quote me," said county Detective Jim Arnold, who investigated the case. "That's why I can't understand what the fuss is about."
Neighbors who witnessed the shooting and the events leading to it said yesterday that Williams did not see Parker and Issacs and that they did not warn Williams they were going to shoot. "They didn't tell him [Williams], to hold it or drop his gun," said Jeffrey Calhoun, 12, who was watching from across the street. "And Bob [Williams] had his back to two of the cops. He didn't even see them and then they shot him."
The incident began at 3:25 p.m. Saturday when a man police later identified as Williams called the emergency operations center in Rockville and said, "3417 Embry Street, there's somebody with a gun."
Off-duty Officer Delaney, who was on his way to a hardware store for some house paint, drove in his police cruiser to the address in the lower middle class neighborhood. He was joined there by McManus, who was on duty.
Accordng to police, Williams pointed his rifle at the two and ordered them to drop their revolvers. Then he ordered them to lie face down on the patchy grass between the two houses.
At 3:32 Issacs and Parker arrived and police said they could see Williams "acting in an excited fashion" and could hear him "making statements unintelligible to them." When they saw Williams aim his .22-caliber rifle at the two officers on the ground and threaten to kill them, they fired, police said. Williams died 45 minutes later at Suburban Hospital.