The New York State Attorney General’s office will not pursue criminal charges against an NYPD officer who fatally shot a 19-year-old man after he opened fire on cops during a foot chase in Downtown Brooklyn last year.
AG Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation conducted an inquiry into officer Jeffrey Perez, who killed Malik Williams on Jul. 9 2022, but determined that a prosecutor would not be able to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the officer had committed a crime.
“After a full evaluation of the facts and the law, OSI will not seek charges against PO Perez because we conclude that a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that his use of deadly force against Mr. Williams was justified under New York law,” the OSI report released Dec. 13 concluded, based on a review of body-worn camera footage, civilian cellphone video, interviews with involved officers and other witnesses, and evidence from the scene.
According to the report, Officer Perez was on patrol in Brooklyn in an unmarked car, in uniform, alongside officers Rodriguez and Campuzano.
Campuzano told investigators he saw a tan 2007 Nissan Murano fail to signal a left turn from westbound Dekalb Avenue onto southbound Flatbush Avenue. He said he followed the Nissan Murano onto southbound Flatbush Avenue where saw the car fail to signal a right turn onto westbound Nevins Street.
Campuzano said he turned on the lights and sirens of his police car and directed the Nissan to pull over. The driver complied and pulled over at the intersection of Nevins Street and Flatbush Avenue.
The officers approached the car occupied by four men, one of whom was Williams in the front passenger side seat.
After the driver told officers he did not have his driver’s license on him, he handed over the car’s registration stating that the car was his, but that his stepmother was the registered owner.
Officer Perez told investigators they decided to ask all four men to step out of the vehicle for “safety reasons.” Two of the occupants came to the back bumper of the car near Perez, but when Williams got out from the front passenger’s seat, he started to run.
Body-cam footage shows Williams opened the front passenger door, got out of the car, and started running toward Flatbush Avenue, prompting officer Perez to chase after him on foot.
Perez continued to chase after Williams while shouting, “stop running!,” holding his radio in his hand. As Williams was running northbound on the east side of Flatbush Avenue he pulled a gun out of his waistband, turned toward Perez, and fired.
Video shows that Perez immediately dropped to the ground following Williams’s shot, but was unharmed. Perez then drew his gun, got to his feet, and fired twice in Williams’s direction. Williams fell to the ground while Perez grabbed his radio and said, “Shots fired! Shots fired!
Perez moved closer to Williams with his gun drawn and yelled, “Get down!” Williams proceeded to get up, prompting Perez to fire two more shots in his direction, striking the 19-year-old once in the chest.
OSI interviewed Dr. Sean Kelly, of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, who determined that Williams died as a result of one gunshot wound to his right upper back.
Perez told OSI investigators that he believed that shooting Williams was necessary to stop him from using deadly force as he thought Williams would shoot again, since the abrupt turn was like when he fired previously.
Perez said he immediately called on the radio for an ambulance and told Williams to remain calm and stop trying to move. Williams was taken to New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Cops found his gun on the scene, according to the AG’s office.
As required by state law, the AG’s Office of Special Investigation “assesses” all deaths that may have been caused by a cop, corrections officer, or peace officer. After over a year since the incident, their investigation has cleared Perez of wrongdoing.
“In this case, Mr. Williams fired his gun at an officer while on a public sidewalk among other people, putting multiple civilians in danger,” the report concluded. “Under these circumstances, based on the law and the evidence, a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer who fired was justified, and OSI determined that criminal charges could not be pursued in this matter.”