Wife of Man Killed By Cop on New Year's Eve Says There Was No Warning Before Shooting

An Ohio man was fatally shot by a police officer just after midnight on January 1 after he fired his gun into the air to celebrate the occasion.

James Williams' wife, Marquetta Williams, told Canton, Ohio's The Repository that firing a gun into the air to celebrate the new year was a tradition in her neighborhood, and that her 46-year-old husband began firing her AR-15 as they heard their neighbors firing their own shots.

After firing a few shots, Williams stepped back into his home when he told his wife "I've been shot" and collapsed in the living room.

In a statement, Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo said police responded to gunfire at the house shortly after midnight. An officer who was outside of his vehicle fired at Williams out of "fear for his safety."

Marquetta Williams said the officer fired at her husband through their 6-foot wooden security fence, with bullet holes later visible through the fence.

"Out of the blue, he said he got shot, he got hit," she said. "I don't know where it came from. Nobody said anything. They didn't say, 'Police.' They didn't say, 'Freeze.' They didn't say, 'Drop your weapon.' They just shot him."

She called 911, telling The Repository that when she opened the door, "there were 30-something officers with guns pointing at us, telling us to get down and come out of the house with our hands up."

The stay-at-home father to four daughters and two stepdaughters was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to The Repository, the department has declined any further comment outside of Angelo's statement.

Three of Williams' daughters had been in the house that night, as well as some of his extended family. His four daughters are between the ages of 9 and 15. Marquetta Williams told the local newspaper her husband "loved spending time with his kids."

"He was lovable and kind. He would give you the shirt off of his back," she said. "He's going to be dearly missed. He shouldn't have died the way that he did. I just want justice for him."

fireworks, new year
An Ohio man was killed by police during a New Year's Eve celebration after firing his gun into the air. Stock Image/Getty Images

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating and all evidence, including body camera images and firearms, has been turned over to the agency. The officer involved has been placed on administrative duty, which is standard procedure in shootings involving police, and his name has not been released.

No officers were injured.

The Associated Press contributed to this report