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Peter Lee Williams, 51
Bayonne, New Jersey
June 10, 2013

Last updated: 11 months ago

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Relatives of a Bayonne man say a police officer's pepper spray caused his death and are waiting on test results to prove it.

Peter Lee Williams, 51, died Tuesday shortly after witnesses say he tried to break up a fight involving his teenage daughter.

Witnesses say a responding officer used pepper spray on the group trying to bring things under control.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mitchell said a fight broke out between Williams' 16-year-old daughter and two other girls in front of an apartment building at 403 Avenue C. He said the two girls had jumped Williams' daughter.

At that point, Williams appeared, walking north on Avenue C on the same side of the street, and approached the fight in an attempt to separate his daughter from the two girls attacking her, he said.

Shortly thereafter, multiple police cars arrived at the scene and parked in a row lining the entire block, Mitchell, 49, said.

According to Baker, a police officer then approached the fight -- which in the meantime had moved into the vestibule in the building at 403 Avenue C -- and asked her what was going on just a few feet away from the fight.

Baker, who lives across the street, said a total of five people were in the vestibule at 403 Avenue C at that time: Williams, Williams' daughter, the two girls who were attacking Williams' daughter and one other girl whose role in the fight wasn't clear.

In contrast, Bayonne Deputy Chief of Police Drew J. Niekrasz said yesterday that a dozen people were fighting in the vestibule, and that a girl had told police that Williams assaulted her while in the vestibule. Baker, on the other hand, claimed Williams did not assault anyone.

Without telling the people inside the vestibule to stop fighting or warning them that he'd use pepper spray if they didn't stop, the officer took out his pepper spray, "barged in" and sprayed everyone inside, said Baker, 49.

The Bayonne Police Department contradicted Baker's account in a statement yesterday, noting that "the officer attempted to disperse the group using verbal commands without effect."

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April 2015 lawsuit filed

December 2015 Court will grant in part and deny in part Plaintiff's motion to srtike.