Young Black man died of self-inflicted gunshot wound and not from a cop’s rounds.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Daytona Beach Police Department reported Wednesday that a 23-year-old Black man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Tuesday afternoon and not as a result of shots fired by a police officer.
According to an autopsy completed by the medical examiner, Shakyri Willis shot himself in the left side of his neck. Willis, who was dealing with a mental illness, had left Halifax Hospital earlier that day.
Police had responded to a call about noon of a suicidal man at a Bellevue Avenue home in Daytona Beach.
‘A tragic event’
According to the police department, Willis was in the backyard and had a gun in his hand. His sister was kneeling in front of him, praying and pleading with Willis not to shoot himself.
Body camera video released Wednesday showed that Officer Chris Maher fired five rounds toward Willis after ordering Willis three times to drop the gun. Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri said the officer’s rounds did not strike Willis.
“It’s just a tragic event,” Capri related during a press conference hours after the shooting. “He was saying…’I’m killing myself, you need to leave.’
Capri said that the officer acted appropriately within the department’s use of force policy.
The Daytona Beach Police Department and the City of Daytona Beach responded quickly on Tuesday to tamp down tensions after the shooting.
Right after the shooting on Tuesday, social media was abuzz with reports that a Daytona officer had shot and killed an unarmed Black male. There also were reports of possible protests against the police department over the shooting.
The police department quickly combated the report.
“That is just irresponsible! People are going to social media and getting false information and not knowing all the facts,” Capri stated. “What about Mr. Willis? What about what he was going through? What about his family?
The police chief continued, “To make false statements that aren’t true I just don’t understand it. I don’t think it’s plausible in our city. We are very transparent and we work with our community.’’
Appeal for calm
Family members told the police that Willis was a popular young man who had never been in trouble but was contemplating suicide and battling mental illness.
Capri said Willis had a mental illness and a substance abuse problem.
The Volusia County/Daytona Beach NAACP and local clergy were on the scene Tuesday after learning of the shooting and appeared with the police chief at Wednesday’s press conference.
City, police and community leaders were appealing to people to stay calm.
Mayor Derrick Henry stated Tuesday, “I stand here with the chief today because I appreciate the chief and the department, the transparency and their belief to doing things the right way. When you have these events across the country, they can bring out the worst in people.
“My job is to call for peace and calm for our city as well as to pray and have us do the things vibrant cities do. It’s tragic. I knew the young man and his family. He had people who care about him deeply. So naturally they have emotions that might erupt.’’
He added, “We need people to be responsible. We must allow the police and the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) to do their job and let the investigation unfold. As a city, we must remain calm.”