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Mother Of Man Shot: 'We Want To Leverage This Situation For Change'

Hannah Colton / KUNM
A line of riot police face protesters after using tear gas and non-lethal bullets following the shooting on Monday, June 15.

The parents of an Albuquerque man who was shot Monday near the statue of colonizer Juan de Oñate in Old Town say Scott Williams, now hospitalized in stable condition, is a longtime activist for human rights and racial justice. Daniel and Denise Williams told KUNM's Hannah Colton they were on scene as tensions escalated; they say earlier they had attended a prayer gathering for the removal of the monument across the street. Scott’s father, Daniel, is a retired paramedic and says after hearing shots fired, he was headed to tend to the victim when he realized that it was his son. 

DANIEL WILLIAMS: And so I started working on him to try to limit the loss of blood and do an assessment. We were probably there two minutes. He told me he was having a hard time breathing. And I said, OK, and I was putting him in a better breathing position. I had no gloves. I'm totally bloody. At that point, I looked over, and it looked like a whole battalion of military was coming. The SWAT team has a paramedic on board, and he came out with his bags, and he told me to get the hell out of there. And I told him that I was a retired paramedic, and this was my son, and we were going to work on him together. And he agreed with that. And so we worked together to stabilize him and get him loaded onto a canvas sling to be then loaded onto the ambulance. But I was told by a couple of cops to get the hell out of there – and you know, while I was still working on my son. They were extremely rude and obnoxious.

DENISE WILLIAMS: When I realized it was Scott and Dan on the ground, and I walked across the street with my hands up, a cop came up in my face. I said 'That man on the ground is my son. And the man working on him is my husband.' And he told me, ‘I don't give a f*** if you're the Virgin Mary, you get the hell out of here,’ and he took whatever was in his hand, a baton or a rifle, and he put it on my chest and shoved me backwards.

DANIEL: In my opinion, the way the cops came in as a battalion just absolutely exacerbated the whole situation.

KUNM: And what happened after Scott was taken away in the ambulance? What were those next hours like?

DENISE: We raced down to the hospital. They wouldn't let us in. So we, basically for the next seven and a half hours, camped out on the driveway and waited for word and called, repeatedly, the hospital, the ER, the police department. And got no response.

DANIEL: Because the police apparently had told them to not give any information out to anybody. I am extremely aggravated with the lack of information because of the police department.

DENISE: Seven and a half hours later, about 3:30 in the morning, a police detective called Dan and told him that he should be able to get information from the hospital. And at that point, Dan called the ICU, and they did respond and give us information and tell us what the status of Scott was. We took a big breath and came home.

KUNM: Is there anything you'd like to hear from local elected officials?

DANIEL: One thing that has become very obvious to me is the absolute militarization of the police. That has got to stop. When we train our police as soldiers, we, the public, become the enemy.

DENISE: If we're going to survive as human beings and live in an equitable society, we can't be brutalized by the people who are sworn to protect and serve us.

KUNM: Any other thoughts you've been having about Scott, just reflecting during this time when you can't see him?

DENISE: Scott is extremely active in activism and equality issues of every kind. He was at Standing Rock. He's always been very passionate about equality and human rights. And we support him in that completely. We have been taught, these last two and a half weeks, three weeks—whatever it's been that the Black Lives [Matter] movement has escalated—to lament, to listen, to learn and to leverage. And we want to leverage this situation for change.

Hannah served as news director at KUNM and reported on education, Albuquerque politics, and anything public health-related. She died in November 2020.
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