Man who died in jail was good but troubled, family says

EVERETT — Bill Williams had good years, too.

He worked hard running a landscaping business in Skagit County. He liked to play the drums and barbecue. He had a lot of friends.

Williams, 60, also had suffered from mental illness since his 20s, according to his family.

He died Friday night at the Snohomish County Jail, shortly after being shot with an electronic stun gun during a struggle with jail staff, police said.

Williams was arrested about 9:30 p.m. Friday at a Broadway gas station, where he’d allegedly shoplifted.

He had been living in Everett recently, receiving services from Compass Health, said his daughter, Trina Blau, 31, of Everett.

Williams was a father of two, and had three small granddaughters.

He suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenic episodes and tendencies, Blau said. Her father could lose contact with reality, and become violent. The family tried for years to help him, and he’d been hospitalized about a dozen times, she said.

Investigators haven’t shared further details about the circumstances surrounding Williams’ death.

After the struggle with jail staff, Williams was put into an isolation cell, Everett police officer Aaron Snell said. Jail staff later found him in distress and summoned medics.

His body was transferred to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office, which will determine how he died. A medical determination could take weeks.

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday, according to the family.

Williams’ death also is under investigation by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, a cadre of homicide detectives from around the county who probe deaths involving police and the use of force.

At least five other people have died at the jail since 2010.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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