The family of a fallen sheriff filed a lawsuit against Lowndes County Commission looking for benefits including worker’s compensation and funeral costs after “Big John” Williams was brutally assassinated in a gas station parking lot on November 23.
But after almost no time at all, the lawsuit was dismissed.
William’s wife, Joanne Williams, reportedly filed a seven-page lawsuit requesting compensation for the fallen sheriff’s family during this difficult time. Williams was shot and killed in what’s being called an unprovoked attack by none other than the teenage son of a Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy.
USA Today reported that the case was dismissed Wednesday around 2 p.m., though there are few details as to why it was tossed out.
Sheriff Williams had reportedly driven out to a QV gas station in order to help with a call placed by the store owner, the suit said.
“The private citizen business owner advised Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams that several young adults and juveniles were congregating in the parking lot of the QV business, blocking access to the gas pumps, playing loud music and causing a disturbance of the peace,” the suit stated.
The suit went on to claim that Williams then spoke to a group of teens and asked that they please leave the area if they weren’t going to be purchasing any goods from the store.
While this was going on, police say an armed teen, identified as 18-year-old William Chase Johnson, drove his vehicle up to the area and exited his truck holding a handgun.
They say what happened next was unprovoked.
“William Chase Johnson approached ‘Big John’ Williams without provocation and shot Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams while he was fulfilling his duties as Sheriff of Lowndes County, Alabama,” the lawsuit claimed.
Police later confirmed that the suspected gunman was actually the son of a local law enforcement official out of Montgomery County, Alabama. He eventually gave himself up and was arrested without further incident after an hours-long manhunt and now faces murder charges in connection with the sheriff’s death.
USA Today said that the reports of the murder shocked local residents.
“A good man lost his life for nothing, it’s just senseless,” said Steve Webb. “It’s just senseless. The sheriff was a good man. He didn’t play any favorites. He didn’t care if you were black or white. He was a good man, and now he’s gone.”
“He was the sheriff,” another Lowndes County resident told USA Today. “If he could help you, he would. Every time he would see you, he’d wave and speak. You know that voice he had.”
Initial reports confirmed the shooting at a gas station in the Lowndes County seat of Hayneville, around 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Montgomery, according to ABC 7.
During the interaction between Johnson and Sheriff John “Big John” Williams, Johnson allegedly shot the lawman at a QV gas station.
Police said after the sheriff was fatally shot by the teen, he then stole the sheriff’s patrol car and took off running.
It happened around 8:15 p.m. local time.
A Blue Alert was issued to try and bring the cop killer to justice, but police say the manhunt for Johnson ended just after midnight when he reportedly walked back to the site of the initial shooting, still armed with a handgun, and turned himself over to authorities.
“Details as to how he fled the scene and then reappeared at the scene, all that’s going to be investigated,” said Sgt. Steve Jarrett, according to WSFA-TV.
Tonight, Alabama mourns the loss of Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams, who was killed in the line of duty. Sheriff Williams dedicated over 40 years of his life to public safety, including 19 years as Sheriff. Please pray for his family and fellow officers. #ThinBlueLine pic.twitter.com/5o8EytjjVz
— AG Steve Marshall (@AGSteveMarshall) November 24, 2019
Social media quickly came alive with memorials for the fallen sheriff.
#BREAKING: Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams shot and killed while responding to crime scene, according to Montgomery County Sheriff. WSFA has a crew on scene. More on-air and online when available. @wsfa12news pic.twitter.com/LQuU260kVC
— Mark Bullock (@markb_wsfa) November 24, 2019
“I’m saddened to hear about Sheriff Big John Williams, who was tragically killed this evening in the line of duty. Through his service to our country in the United States Marine Corps and his many years working in law enforcement, he dedicated his life to keeping other people safe,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a news release.
Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
I’m saddened to hear about Sheriff Big John Williams, who was tragically killed this evening in the line of duty. Through his service to our country in the @USMC and his many years working in law enforcement, he dedicated his life to keeping other people safe. (1/2) #alpolitics
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) November 24, 2019
She said he will not be forgotten.
“He will be remembered as a consummate professional and pillar of his community. I offer my prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and to the men and women of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department.”
He will be remembered as a consummate professional and pillar of his community. I offer my prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and to the men and women of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department. (2/2) #alpolitics
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) November 24, 2019
Local media outlets report that Williams was born and raised in Lowndes County and served his country in the Marine Corps.
He graduated from Calhoun High School in 1976, and was known as “Big John” because of his height. He was well known around town and was highly respected by local residents.
According to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office website, he:
“Always wanted to make a difference in his community and felt there was no better way to help his community than to protect and serve them in law enforcement.”
He started volunteering as a reserve deputy in 1978. For three years in the 1980s he was in the Hayneville Police Department. Then he took a position full-time with the sheriff’s office.
In 1990, he was appointed to chief deputy and served in this capacity until leaving the department in 2009… then ran for sheriff in 2010. He’s served in that role since he won.
ODMP says that in total, “Big John” was a Unites States Marine Corps. veteran and served the field of law enforcement for over 40 years.
He will be forever missed.
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