MILWAUKEE -- More than a year after a Milwaukee man was killed by a deputy along the lakefront, the family of Terry Williams is suing. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office says the deputy was in fear of his life.
The shooting was captured on dashcam video. However, Williams' family says they can prove the officer's life was not at risk. They are hoping a jury will hear their arguments.
Williams was being pursued by deputies on June 11, 2017 on Lincoln Memorial Drive when he jumped a curb and drove towards a deputy. That deputy opened fire and Williams died from his injuries two days later.
"You're never supposed to shoot at a moving vehicle in a crowd of people. You could have tried any other option, but you chose not to. You chose to gun him down like an animal. He's not an animal. He was a human being. He was our family. We love him to death, and now we have to talk to him like this," Shawnda McKee, Williams' cousin said shortly after this happened.
FOX6 News spoke with a captain at the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office shortly after the shooting who defended Deputy Michael Truax's actions, saying he was nearly run over.
Dashcam video released
The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office on June 16, 2017 released dashcam video of the deputy-involved shooting.
The video shows what was happening from the vantage point of a deputy who was trying to pull over the Audi Williams was driving. You can hear the voice of Captain Daniel Hughes speaking about the video from the office of the sheriff.
Despite the squad's flashing lights and an external microphone command to pull over, the Audi cut across traffic and then headed across park land towards Lincoln Memorial Drive. In slow motion, once on Lincoln Memorial, you can see the Audi jumped the median. The sheriff's office said the Audi then went into the oncoming traffic lanes.
That's when Deputy Truax fired into the SUV. The SUV made it back into northbound lanes before it crashed into a parked vehicle.
A statement from lawyers involved said "the video clearly shows that Mr. Williams was not trying to run down anyone."
"I want to know why would he just opened fire and started shooting when his life wasn't in danger," said James Nash, Williams' stepfather.
The family's lawyer admits while fleeing deputies was not the right move, Williams was not trying to hit the deputy as the sheriff's office contends.
"It was in violation of the law, but he had not jeopardized that police officer. He had not threatened that police officer," said Walter Stern, attorney.
Attorney Walter Stern calls the dashcam video released by the sheriff's office vague.
"I think one of the key points is the ballistics. It doesn't fit," said Stern.
An investigator says their investigation has determined Truax fired from the side of the vehicle.
"We used rods and strings from the place they shot was for our own ballistics and determined it was impossible for that officer to be in front of that vehicle," said _____
Truax was assigned to foot patrol in the area, and was placed on administrative leave after this shooting. He's been with the MCSO since August of 2016.
Incident allegedly involving Terry Williams before the shooting
FOX6 News learned Williams was accused of taking part in a violent incident less than 24 hours before the lakefront shooting. Williams and another man were accused of shooting at someone's car. Charges were filed on June 16, 2017.
"They didn't care about nobody that was outside that day," said the man who had the encounter with Williams.
It was a close call one Milwaukee man can't seem to forget. On June 10, 2017, an encounter in a parking lot near 60th and Silver Spring, shook him to the core.
"It could've been my life that was gone," said the man.
According to a criminal complaint, the man who FOX6 News is not identifying, had a run-in with Williams and his friend, Daniel Nash.
"The guy was asking me about my van, about my sound," said the man.
Investigators say the man asking about the van was Williams.
"When I waved it off, he opened his door up to me and showed me a long assault rifle," said the man.
In response, the man showed Williams a handgun. He was open carrying. Moments later, investigators say Nash approached and got in Williams' passenger seat.
"He grabbed that assault rifle out," the man said.
They took off and things escalated.
"I noticed the passenger in the vehicle come out of the window and start shooting at my car, at which point I returned fire," said the man.
Eventually, the man stopped an officer and told him about the suspects and a chameleon green SUV. He thought he'd never see the guys again -- until he turned on the news. He saw Williams has been killed at the lakefront after a deputy shot at his SUV.
"I don't feel nothing for them," said the man.
He said he feels numb, while still replaying the "what ifs."
"I'm sorry that it had to happen, but I don't feel nothing," said the man.
Nash has been charged with first degree recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct-use of a dangerous weapon and bail jumping. He has a jury trial scheduled to begin in December.
Williams had a warrant out for his arrest but it's unknown if deputies knew that when they tried to pull him over. The district attorney's reports will include law enforcement's ballistic investigation. The DA's decision is expected soon.
Williams' family is seeking an unspecified amount of cash for damages.