Nine months after obstruction of justice charges were laid against former Thunderbird football player Jamiel Moore-Williams following an incident where the UBC alumni was tasered and arrested by Vancouver police, crown prosecutors have chosen to stay those charges.
Prosecutors stayed the charges in Moore-Williams' case on November 28 after reviewing a report from an independent investigator.
“The decision to stay the charges in this case was made when the prosecutor concluded the charge approval standard could no longer be met,” said a statement from the BC Prosecution Service. “In these circumstances, a stay of proceedings is the appropriate course of action.”
For Moore-Williams, the development was a breath of fresh air.
"I feel awesome about the charges being stayed because it takes that chip off my shoulder of me having to go back to court, and then fight for something that I know I did not do,” said Moore-Williams. “I'm not wrong in the situation so that takes that off me.”
On a Sunday morning in February, Moore-Williams was stopped by officers from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) for a jaywalking violation on the Granville strip. The incident, which was caught on video, quickly escalated when Moore-Williams was tasered and arrested by VPD officers. Moore-Williams said that he was arrested because he was black.
While Moore-Williams was pleased the charges had been stayed, he clarified that it would not necessarily bring him closure. He said that the incident would continue to affect him and the people around him.
“I am going to have this over my shoulder for the rest of my life,” Moore-Williams said.
The VPD could not comment on the news as there are ongoing investigations into the incident, particularly at the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC). The OPCC has assigned the RCMP to investigate the conduct of some of the officers who arrested Moore-Williams.
“The RCMP are doing their work and they’ll let us know when they’ve completed their work as to whether they’re going to recommend charges against any Vancouver officers or not, and then the Police Act investigation will take place after that,” Deputy Complaints Commissioner Rollie Woods said.
Moore-Williams has also filed a civil suit and has a pending human rights complaint with the BC human rights tribunal. He still faces a jaywalking ticket from February.
Since the incident, there has been much support for Moore-Williams from the UBC community. In February, two UBC students launched a social media hashtag in support of the former Thunderbird. A GoFundMe was created in May to help Moore-Williams with his legal costs.
"I'm so grateful for the outreach that I've gotten. And it's endless. It's endless. Wherever I go people are always giving me support,” said Moore-Williams. “But it’s a reminder of what happened, right? … and that's not on them, that’s on the police officers themselves. They're going to have to deal with that.”