In early August we published a visiting blogger piece by Arnold Friedman about the possible parole of Voltaire Williams, who was convicted in the murder of Los Angeles police officer Thomas Williams in 1985. Friedman covered that murder case for the Daily News; Williams also was his fraternity brother at San Fernando Valley State College. Friedman's piece struck some nerves and has received a lot of attention in the law enforcement community. Now several groups, including the LAPD union, have sent a joint letter to Gov. Jerry Brown opposing parole for Williams, who knew about a plot to kill Williams to stop him from testifying and did nothing to stop it (except refuse to kill the officer himself.)
Here's the letter.
Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Governor of the State of California
Sacramento, CA 915814
Dear Governor Brown:
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the California College and University Police Chiefs Association, the California Correctional Supervisors Organization, the California Narcotic Officers Association and the Riverside Sheriffs Association all join with the Los Angeles Police Protective League in expressing our strongest opposition to the finding of suitability and grant of parole to inmate Voltaire Williams (CDCR # E17796), who is serving a life sentence for his critical role in the assassination of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams in 1985. Inmate Williams was a key participant in what has been described as one of the worst murder plots in Los Angeles history.
On Halloween night 1985 Detective Williams was picking up his young son from school. As they were preparing to leave, Officer Williams was shot and killed when eight bullets from a fully automatic assault weapon struck him. Detective Williams only had time to order his young son, Ryan, to duck, causing the other nine bullets to fly past him. The Medal of Valor, the LAPD’s highest award for bravery, was given to Detective Williams posthumously for saving his son’s life at the cost of his own.
Inmate Voltaire Williams (no relation to Detective Williams), has admitted his profound role in the death of Detective Williams. The assassination of Detective Williams began when he successfully arrested Daniel Steven Jenkins for a 1984 street robbery that escalated into a near-fatal hit on the victim of that robbery and ended with Detective Williams’ murder during the Jenkins robbery trial. The plot was initially hatched to sabotage Jenkins’ robbery trial since Detective Williams was the lead investigator on the Jenkins robbery case.
The original plan was for Voltaire Williams to murder Detective Williams, but Williams elected to sub-contract the job to a friend, Aladron Hunter, to be the actual triggerman working under Voltaire Williams’ close supervision. Ultimately Hunter declined to murder Detective Williams. Voltaire Williams attempted to persuade Hunter’s to change his mind, but to no avail, and Jenkins (who was on a low bail release from his robbery trial) ultimately murdered Detective Williams. Immediately after the murder, Aladron Hunter informed the police and was ultimately a prosecution witness in both the trials of Voltaire Williams and Daniel Steven Jenkins.
Although Voltaire Williams had ample opportunity to inform law enforcement of the plot, he declined to do so “out of loyalty to Jenkins.” All parties agreed that if Voltaire Williams had called police before the actual hit, it would have saved Detective Williams life. His “loyalty” to Jenkins effectively sealed Detective Williams’ fate.
Although Detective Williams was the victim of this callous plot, he is only one victim. In a very real sense, the target of this plot is the integrity of the entire criminal justice system.
We believe this parole grant jeopardizes public safety due to Voltaire Williams’ minimization of the true “execution” nature of the killing and his admission that he helped orchestrate and permitted these events to go forward out of a greater loyalty to Daniel Jenkins.
Moreover, the larger public policy implications of the release of persons who murder police officers are significant and should not be ignored when considering whether or not to release someone who has murdered a police officer. Simply put, such releases send a message that we do not value the lives of front-line officers on any serious level. Daily, police officers confront situations where the possibility they will not return home at the end of the day is very real. Feasibly, the only protection – albeit a decidedly intangible protection – is awareness (on the part of the criminal) that if he murders a police officer he does so with certain knowledge that his own freedom will be forever forfeited. This is a tenuous shield for an officer, but a shield nonetheless. The moment we begin releasing persons who participate in the murder of peace officers in the line of duty will, in essence, begin the dissolution of even that most fragile of shields.
In closing, and as it pertains to Voltaire Williams, there is nothing he has presented that suggests any mitigating circumstances which would now make parole appropriate; he is still the key conspirator in the murder of Detective Williams and should not have been granted parole by the Board of Parole Hearings. Voltaire Williams’ release is not only unjustified given his individual circumstances, but from a larger policy perspective, this release constitutes an unreasonable risk of harm to all police officers who work our streets every day.
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the California College and University Police Chiefs Association, the California Correctional Supervisors Organization, the California Narcotic Officers Association, and the Riverside Sheriffs Association all join Los Angeles Police Protective League respectfully requesting this parole grant be reversed pursuant to Penal Code §3041.2.
Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs
Association of Deputy District Attorneys
Riverside Sheriffs Association
California College and University Police Chiefs Association
California Narcotic Officers Association
California Correctional Supervisors Organization