CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – They stood in a circle, hands interlocked, sending up a prayer asking God for answers. What happened in the early morning hours of June 13, just steps away from where the group had gathered on Featherstone Drive? How did their beloved Jovontay Williams die?
According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Policeofficers came across the 32-year-old after responding to multiple reports of shots being fired in a North Charlotte neighborhood just before 2 am
Police say Williams was acting erratically when they took him into custody and transported him to the hospital where he later died.
But his mother Christa Williams says she’s yet to learn what led to her son’s death in police custody, except being told the cause was “medical reasons.”
“There’s no way. There’s no way,” Williams said. “I don’t believe it. I just don’t.”
According to CMPD, one woman told a 911 dispatcher a person was trying to break into her home. When officers arrived, they say they found Williams behind another house. Police described his behavior as erratic, excited and that they believed he had lost control of his body.
During a CMPD press conference last Monday, police told the media that Williams tried to enter another home while officers were attempting to calm him down.
“Officers had to intervene and they took him into custody using a soft, empty-hand technique. They basically grabbed him and put his hands in handcuffs,” Lt. Bryan Crum said.
Realizing Williams was not only in mental but also physical distress, Crum said his officers transported him to the hospital – but he was then transferred to another for more specialized care. Hours later, police say he died while in the care of hospital staff.
But Williams said her son, a former college football star at Johnson C. Smith University, who also had serious NFL prospects, never had any health issues before.
“It’s been hell. It really has,” she said.
Along with answers, Williams just wants to see her child’s body, a simple request she says has been denied so far.
“I just can’t believe you kept his body this long. How long does it take to do an autopsy?” she asked.
According to police, a gun and drug paraphernalia were found at the scene.
CMPD said its officers use of arresting Williams with a “soft, empty hands” approach is in line with their resistance policy.
But the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) has taken over the in-custody death investigation. And a separate internal investigation is being done within CMPD to decide if “policies and directives were followed.”
Neither CMPD nor the SBI have provided any further information about what type of medical condition led to Williams’ death and why his family hasn’t been able to view his body.
Back out on Featherstone Drive, Christa Williams’ pastor, Dr. Paxton Hughes, continued the prayer while she broke down in tears.
“Right now, we need you to come and stand with this family,” Paxton prayed. “With this child who will ask questions one day, where is my father?”
But Williams’ 3-year-old boy has already asked his mother, Williams’ fiance, where his father is.
“On the following night he said my daddy’s dead,” Oyanga Mudimbi said.
The child might not know what happened to Jovontay Williams in the early morning hours of June 13, but he knows he’s not coming back.
“Jovontay is a hands-on father. He’s a loving father. His child misses him. And we just need answers on what happened.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral costs.
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