CANTON, Ohio — Just over a month after a grand jury declined to file criminal charges against the Canton police officer who fatally shot a man on New Year's Day, an internal review has cleared him of wrongdoing.
In a release issued on Wednesday, Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei announced that a use of force review board determined that Officer Robert Huber "acted within all applicable Departmental Use of Force policies." Huber will not be disciplined and Bernabei says the internal review of the incident has been concluded.
James Williams, 46, had apparently been firing celebratory gunshots skyward from behind a 6-foot-tall fence at his 10th Street Southwest home when Huber fired multiple rounds through the fence as smoke rose into the air. Footage from Huber's body camera showed him shouting “Get down!” after he had shot Williams, who died at a hospital.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation led the inquiry into the case and shared its findings with Stark County Prosecutor Kyle Stone, who presented jurors with a "wide range" of potential felony and misdemeanor charges, but the group ultimately decided not to indict Huber.
"This incident is tragic for the family of Mr. Williams. They have lost a husband and father and friend under tragic circumstances," Bernabei added in Wednesday's statement. "My prayers go out to them. I also offer my prayers to Officer Huber and his family as well. Officer Huber who was doing his job on patrol on January 1, was placed in extraordinarily challenging split-second decision circumstances and acted through his training to confront and not walk away from an “active shooter” incident and must now live with the trauma of this incident."
Williams' family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Huber and the city of Canton. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and special damages for claims that include excessive force, wrongful death, deliberate indifference to medical needs, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The Associated Press contributed to this story