Linwood, PA – A man who escaped from police custody while officers were taking him out of his jail cell was fatally shot when he tried to take an officer’s gun.
The incident occurred just after 10:30 a.m. on Friday after 34-year-old Darren Williams was arraigned in his cell in the district courthouse in Linwood, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Police said that Williams had threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend and stole her car on Thursday.
An officer saw him driving erratically in Trainer and initiated a traffic stop, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Police said Williams ignored the officer’s commands to stay in his vehicle and then took up a boxing stance after the field sobriety tests.
He fought with police officers who tried to take him into custody and officers used a Taser to get him under control, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“He was under arrest and was told to place his hands behind his back. He began struggling with four officers and refused to take commands with them,” Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland said, according to KYW.
Officers found an unidentified white powder inside Williams’ vehicle.
Copeland said Williams’ ex-girlfriend had told police that she was changing the locks because her ex-boyfriend had started using “wet,” a street name for PCP, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Williams spent the night in a holding cell in Chester and was transported to Linwood for court on Friday morning.
He was put into a holding cell at the courthouse before his arraignment and his restraints were removed, but due to his extremely violent behavior during his arrest, the district attorney said investigators elected to have Williams arraigned in his cell, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
District Judge David F. Griffin conducted Williams’ arraignment on misdemeanor drug charges and driving under the influence, and set bail at $20,000.
Williams was unable to post 10 percent of his bail for release so authorities were transferring him to the Delaware County prison, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Copeland said everything went haywire when a Trainer police detective and Pennsylvania state constable unlocked Williams cell to transfer him and the prisoner “shoved the door open” and ran past them into the parking lot.
The detective was able to take Williams to the ground in the parking lot and there was a violent struggle, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Copeland said that the constable deployed a Taser on Williams during the fight but the less-lethal weapon had “no effect” on him.
Then, as they struggled, Williams was able to grab ahold of the detective’s duty weapon, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
One witness told police “I heard him say, ‘I got the gun now,'” according to KYW.
The detective grabbed the barrel of the weapon and ordered Williams to drop it, but the man ignored the command and continued to fight.
The district attorney said that, during the chaos, Williams accidentally shot himself in the stomach with the detective’s gun, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
At almost the exact same moment, the constable opened fire on Williams and shot him in the back.
Williams was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Witnesses gave vastly different accounts of what they believed they saw happen in the courthouse parking lot, WPVI reported.
One woman claimed the officers had Williams pinned down and "detained" when they shot him, while suggesting race was a factor in the shooting.
Another witness described the struggle for the officer's gun and said he heard Williams say he had the gun.
Copeland said the entire incident had been captured on courthouse and parking lot surveillance cameras and that authorities were still reviewing the footage.
The names of the officers involved have not been released.
Court records showed that Williams had an extensive record of drug and gun arrests and convictions in Delaware County, and had previously served time in state prison, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.’
At the time of his arrest, he was wanted for the ex-girlfriend’s stolen vehicle and for making a terroristic threat in Claymont, where he was accused of threatening to kill two people, KYW reported.
But his family said they were shocked by what had happened.
“Darren wouldn’t have dared,” Williams’ mother-in-law told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He wasn’t the type of person to resist arrest.”