JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Brittany Williams, a Jacksonville woman charged with battery and assault on an officer and resisting arrest, spoke out for the first time about the day, seven months ago, when she questioned why a police officer was in her driveway and ended up in jail charged with two felonies.
“It was a Wednesday,” Williams, said.
She and her husband, Ausar Moore, were having a day for themselves.
“I was in the middle of applying my clay mask, as well as running a bubbly bath, and he was making me one of my favorite dishes, tuna noodle casserole, he was in the kitchen cooking for me, because I am supposed to be practicing self-care because I am a workaholic,” she said. “I will never forget.”
The couple’s R&R was about to be over.
“Brittany, there’s an officer outside just parked in the driveway and he’s been there for a while and I don’t know if you want to go and check it out,” Moore said.
“So I go outside, and I say, ‘Hi officer, can I help you? How can I help you?’” Williams recalled saying. “He just immediately started to yell at me and tell me things like, ‘I can be here if I want to -- this is a public lot.’ Things that were absolutely ridiculous. I automatically felt threatened.”
Williams said she went back inside.
“I told him ‘I’m going to call 911 to report you.’ He laughed at me and was like ‘Ha! They are just (going to) call me anyway.’”
Williams said she called for help.
According to the arrest report, before Williams called JSO, the officer told her he backed into the driveway because he thought it was “a vacant property” and was “just checking emails while traffic was backed up.” The report goes onto say Williams told the officer to leave and then threw a spoon with an unknown green substance at him while he was sitting in his car.
Cell phone video and police body camera video capture the moments that follow.
As four additional officers arrived, Moore yelled from inside the home, “Here they come. Here they come.”
You can hear the operator ask Williams if she wanted to remain on the line. “Ma’am, do you want to stay on the phone with me?”
Williams and Moore are talking to officers. The couple was standing on their steps. The officers were in the driveway. One officer can be seen in the video walking closer to the couple.
Williams asked, “Why are y’all here and why are y’all smirking?”
Video shows the officer moving toward Williams, then walking up the stairs. Williams turns to get away and moves into the foyer of the duplex she owns. She is taken down by the officer.
A lot of screaming is heard on camera.
“No, stop. Please stop. That’s my girl. Please. Stop bro,” Moore screams.
“Stand back. I will take you to jail, too,” the officer replies.
After more continues screaming, “Stop. Stop. Stop. Please, bro, that’s my girl. Please, bro, don’t take her to jail.”
The officer said, “Now you’re going to jail.”
While in handcuffs Williams screamed, “You’re just mad because I am a black girl.”
Officer: “No because you battered a law enforcement officer.”
Williams: “I battered him? kicked him?”
Officer: “Get in! Kick somebody else again.”
The officer slams the door of the patrol car.
Williams was charged with battery and assault on an officer and resisting arrest. Williams does not have a criminal record, but she faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of both charges.
Her attorneys say they believe after the State Attorney’s Office reviews the evidence in the case, they will drop all charges against her.
Caught on tape
Cameras capture the moment the officer is heard talking with a possible witness, not seen on camera but said, “She didn’t kick you!”
The officer responded, “She kicked me while I was inside. Go somewhere, unless you want to be a witness to it.”
The arrest report states that while Williams was taken into custody, a semi-automatic pistol fell off her person and onto the floor.
“I have the right to protect myself and have a weapon inside of my house,” Williams said. “That was just a reason and an excuse to attack me. I also had, until recently because of this situation, a concealed weapon license. If I wanted to carry it, I can legally do that.”
Williams did let the officers know she had a gun before being taken into custody, the report stating: “HQ stated the complainant advised she has a gun and would shoot the police if they came near her.”
Williams questions the officers’ use of force.
“They broke my teeth on the floor right in front of the stairwell,” Williams explained.
News4Jax showed the video to Alex Piquero, a criminology professor and chair of the department of sociology at the University of Miami.
“I saw a lot of force,” Piquero said. “Looking at the video, that there’s a lot of empty space.”
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, a retired JSO officer with more than 24 years on the force, disagreed.
“In this case, I didn’t see any excessive force being done. There were trying to restrain her,” Jefferson said.
Lashway asked both experts if they thought the police acted in line with department protocol.
“I can say that they did some things that were in line and some things that were probably a little too much,” Piqueros said. “In altercations, Zachery, they get worse as they go along, they don’t get better. That’s what we saw here.”
“They acted in line with department protocol as far as executing the arrest. They did not act in line with protocol of just leaving that area when asked to do so,” Jefferson said.
Piquero often asked how law enforcement agencies should deal with confrontations like this.
“I have always recommended to police chiefs and police departments to be in front of the story and to be as open and honest as you can and every step of the way.” Piquero said.
Officers talk among themselves; experts react
Here’s some of the conversation between the officers captured on police body camera video, the day of the incident.
One officer asked the arresting officer, “Why did you park here?” The officer responded, “Why not? I am out of the roadway.” A laugh is heard.
“Just be sure when you write your narrative, there’s no real example of… I did not activate my camera immediately because I was not anticipating the citizen’s reaction. Right. I pulled over here really quick,” explained one officer to another.
Williams said she was taken to an empty lot, just yards away from her home. She said they held her in that lot for a period of time before they brought her to jail.
“There’s nothing illegal with that. The question is was that appropriate?” Piquero said.
Jefferson was asked if he thought race played a factor in the case.
“I don’t know. ... I don’t know the mindset of the officer,” Jefferson said. “It just did not have to go this far. Would an officer go to another type of neighborhood and sit in someone’s driveway without permission? I can tell you the answer to that. The answer is more than likely no.”
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has declined to comment as this is an active criminal investigation.
News4Jax as requested the 911 call and the files on the five officers involved in this case.