ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man convicted of shooting two police officers during a 2015 protest in the fallout over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison.
Jeffrey Williams, 22, was found guilty in December of first-degree assault and other crimes for the shooting on March 12, 2015. Jerryl Christmas, Williams’ attorney, said an appeal is likely.
Brown, who was 18, black and unarmed, was fatally shot on Aug. 9, 2014, during a street confrontation with white Ferguson officer Darren Wilson. Some residents living near the shooting said Brown was trying to surrender, but a St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice both cleared Wilson of wrongdoing. He resigned in November 2014.
In March 2015, the Justice Department issued a scathing report about racial bias and profiling in Ferguson law enforcement, prompting renewed protests. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson resigned soon after the report came out.
Protesters near police headquarters were celebrating Jackson’s resignation when shots rang out from a passing car. St. Louis County officer Scott Brown was struck in the shoulder. Webster Groves, Missouri, officer Cameron McKay was hit in the cheek. Both survived, but McKay never returned to duty and left the Webster Grove department.
Williams has said that another man in the car fired the shots. But police said Williams confessed, and a pistol found at his home matched shell casings at the shooting scene.
In a recording of jail phone calls obtained in April 2015 by The Associated Press, Williams said he was shooting at someone else, not the officers.
“Nobody aiming at no police,” he says in the audio. “I ran up the hill and he (an unidentified person) shot at the car. … I shot back.”
Later in the conversation Williams said he knew he was likely headed to prison but guessed low on the length of his sentence.
“Even though I was in the wrong, though, I should have just went the other way,” he said. “Oh man, now I’m looking at 10 years.”