Friday, December 1, 2023

EPD Identifies 31 Year Old Shot by Officers as Cutten Man

Posted By on Fri, Dec 1, 2023 at 3:20 PM

click to enlarge A map of the route Matthew Robert Williams reportedly took from where an officer stopped a vehicle he was a passenger in to where he was shot by police after allegedly pulling a firearm, according to EPD. - EPD
  • EPD
  • A map of the route Matthew Robert Williams reportedly took from where an officer stopped a vehicle he was a passenger in to where he was shot by police after allegedly pulling a firearm, according to EPD.
The Eureka Police Department has identified the man killed by officers in a shooting Sunday as Matthew Robert Williams, 31, of Cutten.

EPD issued a press release this afternoon, offering a bit more detail on the shooting that followed a traffic stop at about 9:35 a.m. Sunday, leaving Williams dead and two officers on administrative leave. According to EPD, the incident began when an officers pulled over a vehicle on M Street, north of Second Street, for having an expired registration tag. When the vehicle stopped, Williams, the right front passenger, got out and fled on foot, according to the release, which details that he ran east on a walkway north of the Ingomar Club toward the north side of the Humboldt County Library.

According to the release, the officer who had pulled the vehicle over did not pursue Williams, instead staying with the car and its two occupants as nearby officers responded to search the area for the fleeing man.

“An officer located the male as he was attempting to scale a fence to the north side of the Clara Mayberry Park, which was closed,” the release states, adding that the officer gave Williams commands to stop. “However, the male refused to comply and a physical altercation ensued.”

The release states that as a second officer arrived to assist, Williams allegedly pulled a pistol, which he held with his right hand, and at some point chambered a round.

“At this point during the alteration, shots were fired by officers and the male was struck by the gunfire,” the release states. “It’s unknown at this time if the male fired his handgun during the alteration.”

Williams was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy has been scheduled.

click to enlarge A booking photo from Williams' July 25 arrest. - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • A booking photo from Williams' July 25 arrest.
After the shooting, the officer who’d initiated the traffic stop left the vehicle to help the officers who’d been involved in the alleged altercation with and shooting of Williams. At that point, the two occupants of the vehicle left the area. They and the car were later tracked down, with the occupants interviewed and the car seized as evidence.

According to the release, two officers fired shots at Williams — one with more than seven years’ of experience in law enforcement, the other with more than four years’ experience. The release states both were minorly injured in the alteration and have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, per departmental protocol.

The firearm recovered from Williams was a ghost gun, according to EPD, meaning it does not have a serial number. Additionally, the release alleges he was found to be in possession of 42 grams of fentanyl and a “large amount of cash.”

According to EPD, one of the officers who fired their weapon during the exchange was wearing a body camera that captured video of the incident, while the other officer’s camera “suffered a malfunction and did not capture the incident.”

According to media reports, Williams has a history of arrests in Humboldt County, primarily for drug offenses. He was most recently arrested July 25 by agents with the Humboldt County Drug Task Force on suspicion of drug possession, resisting a peace officer, violation of the terms of his probation and possessing burglary tools. The timing and circumstances of his release from jail are unclear, though the Journal has inquired and will report any response we receive.

The shooting remains under investigation by the Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team, with the investigation being co-led by the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office and EPD. Meanwhile, a parallel administrative investigation is also being conducted and its findings will be reviewed by the city’s independent police auditor, who will report to the city’s Community Oversight on Police Practices Board.

EPD asks anyone with information about the incident to call detective Bailey with the Criminal Investigations Unit at (707) 441-4215 or district attorney investigator G. Hill at (707) 268-2553.

Find the city’s full press release here, and past Journal coverage of the shooting and the state laws that will govern its review and the release of associated documents and video and audio recordings of the incident here.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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