Detroit Police Couple’s Tragic Deaths Reflects Rise in Officer Suicide
Amber Hunt and Tammy Stables Battaglia, Detroit Free Press, September 23, 2009
First, the shots rang out. Then came the screams.
A woman’s lifeless body lay on the cement. The man who had shot her was down, too, a self-inflicted gunshot to his head, his breathing too shallow to detect.
The pleas were useless: Canton police said that 33-year-old Patricia Williams, a Detroit police officer, was already dead, and her killer and husband–Detroit homicide Detective Edward Williams, 36–had fatally turned the gun on himself.
The Tuesday morning deaths were a marriage of two endemic problems plaguing police departments nationwide, experts said: domestic violence and suicides.
According to data compiled by WSU, Detroit officers face a higher suicide rate than most police, at 28 per 100,000 police officers, nearly twice as many as New York City police.
Also, marriages involving police officers are two to four times more likely to involve domestic violence.
Detroit cops lead nation in suicides
Canton police trying to piece together what led a Detroit Police Department homicide investigator to shoot and kill his wife, then himself, face an uncomfortable reality: More police officers kill themselves in Detroit than in other big cities nationwide, and police in general have higher rates of domestic violence.
Details of the shooting deaths were still guarded Tuesday, but police said trouble had been brewing between Edward, 36, and Patricia Williams, 33–also a Detroit police officer–for days, prompting a domestic complaint to be filed with Canton Police over the weekend.
On Tuesday, a male friend of Patricia Williams called police about 8:30 a.m. to report there had been another incident.
The caller said Patricia Williams was on her way to the Police Department, Canton Police spokesman Mark Gajeski said. She never made it.
Instead, she parked her silver late-model BMW a couple of spaces down from her husband’s sleek black Dodge Charger with dark-tinted windows along the side of the library parking lot.
“He called her, and he got her to come over to the library and talk to him,” Gajeski said, looking at the couple’s cars still in the parking lot of the Canton Center Road library, the revolver used still on the ground. “That’s when the shooting started.”
The couple had no children, though Patricia Williams had a 10-year-old son from a previous marriage. He had left the Canton family’s home in the Central Park South subdivision for school before the shooting took place, Gajeski said.
Ed Williams was well liked and had appeared in the A&E program “The First 48,” a reality-based TV show that highlights the initial two days of criminal investigations.
He was one of several homicide investigators featured during a several-episode stint in Detroit.