The St. Louis County Police Department denied allegations that a 20-year-old man who was arrested and charged for shooting two police officers during a demonstration in Ferguson, Missouri, last week, was “beaten” by police. Jeffrey Williams’ lawyer on Monday had doubted his client’s role in the shooting and claimed that police used excessive force while arresting the suspect.
Williams was arrested late Saturday and charged with two counts of assault in the first degree, one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle and three counts of armed criminal action. He appeared in court on Monday and his case was continued until March 31. Authorities reportedly said that Williams admitted firing the shots but claimed that the officers were not his target.
"He was beat up by the police… He was beaten when he was taken into custody," attorney Jerryl Christmas said, in a telephone interview, according to Reuters, adding that Williams had bruises on his back, shoulders and face and a knot on his head.
However, police spokesman Brian Schellman called the lawyer’s allegations “completely false,” adding that “the arrest team had an overwhelming presence and Williams did not resist whatsoever,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Schellman also reportedly said that a nurse checked on Williams and deemed him fit for confinement.
Bishop Derrick Robinson of the Kingdom Destiny Fellowship International, which organized protests in Ferguson, also claimed that Williams reportedly showed him bruises on his body, which the suspect claimed had been the result of police beating him.
“I don’t think they have the right person in custody,” Christmas reportedly said, adding that he did not think Williams “shot anybody.”
The two officers, who were among many attempting to control demonstrators gathered outside the Ferguson police department building on Thursday, were from St. Louis County and the city of Webster Groves. St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar had said immediately after the shooting that the officers were targeted for being part of the force.