However, Williams, a trial witness who had watched helplessly as George Floyd died under Chauvin’s knee last May, resorted to his fighting instincts.
Williams had physically trained himself to fight in a new kind of ring a courthouse. That was apparent in his cool answers to thorny questions from Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, who attempted to portray Williams and other onlookers who had yelled at Chauvin to get his knee off Floyd’s neck as an enraged crowd.
In a memorable exchange from the early days of the trial, Williams boldly told Nelson, “You can’t make me out to be angry.”
He said of the trauma he already goes through, “I don’t think any of America knows.” “I don’t think they truly comprehend that the people who were really affected, the things that they have to contend with for the rest of their lives or be remembered for the rest of their lives — you know, someone potentially sacrificing their life — it is difficult for everyone in the community.”
Williams, 33, said he, like other bystanders, has spent many sleepless nights thinking about Floyd.
Witnessing Floyd’s murder caused him to seek treatment for the first time in his life, and he continues to meet with his psychiatrist on a daily basis. He said his psychiatrist was the first one he spoke to about the discomfort he had every day for several months.
He also steered clear of the commonly circulated bystander and police body camera footage of Floyd’s detention, which were regularly seen in court during the hearing.
Only after the trial did Williams hear for the first time the tape of his urgent 911 call on Floyd’s death day.
“Y’all were killers, bro!” Williams could be heard screaming at the police in a video of the 911 call.
He testified that after Floyd was carried away in an ambulance, he “called the cops on the cops” and told the 911 operator that he thought he’d witnessed a crime.
Despite the passage of time, Floyd’s death continues to have an impact on Williams’ life in various ways.
“It has an effect on my financial situation. It has an impact on my children. It has an effect on everything I’m doing “Williams, who is also an entrepreneur with landscaping and snow clearing companies, agreed.
In several cases, his tenacity was shown during the appeal. Nelson, the prosecuting counsel, made repeated efforts to rile and discredit him.
“The strategy, it was appalling to me and for him to continue to paint me as an angry Black person and to try to get a rise out of me was pretty disappointing,” Williams said. “But it also always helped me remember that it was a title match and that it was an enemy in front of me trying to break me, and I just held my balance because I’ve been through this before as a Black guy.”
When Williams heard that Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, had been accused of second-and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, he was at home with his son and daughter. He said he had discussed the unequal treatment of Black people by police with his children even before he testified, which he said he had encountered and observed growing up in Minneapolis.
Before the decision was revealed, they had prayed together.
“It was both happy and tragic at the same time,” Williams said. “All we wanted was for the verdict to be as it was.”
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” he said. “However, I wasn’t completely confident in the scheme.”
About the fact that he hasn’t spoken to any of the other bystanders since last May, Williams believes they are all in agony.
Williams, too, is looking forward to the future.
He’d been fishing with his son at Valentine Lake earlier in the day on May 25 before going to Cup Foods for a beer and having a life-altering experience.
He said his plans for the day were to “maybe just be with family again.” “And, because I only went fishing once last year, try to get some fishing in.”
Northside Boxing Club, a nonprofit in Minneapolis where Williams once taught and mentored children and young adults, is one area where Williams’ influence has been overlooked.
“He worked hard, lived a disciplined life, and had the right discipline that we’re trying to instill in the youth there,” Northside Boxing Club founder Ryan Burnet said.
Williams has been fighting professionally for ten years. He ripped his ACL in his last fight in 2019 and is now unable to practice. Burnet said he hasn’t been to Northside Boxing Club in about a year, but he is still welcome.
“He knows he has a home there anytime he wants to come by,” Burnet said. “We would love to show him the love he needs and deserves.” “He would be invited, as much as he would like to be there. He’d be a great addition to the gym and the youth of Minneapolis, in my opinion.”