Cops’ fatal shooting of man stabbing his partner could’ve been prevented with better security, residents say

LOWER EAST SIDE — The NYPD said that its officers had no choice but to shoot a man when he stabbed his domestic partner.  The shooting killed the man, but helped to save the life of his apparent victim, according to police.

An indicator of what had happened was apparent from the street, eight stories below the apartment here where the shooting had occurred just before 7 a.m.:  a bullet hole was visible through one of the windows of the apartment.

The bullet was from one of five shots fired when what had seemed to be a relatively routine domestic dispute response got intense, according to law enforcement.

"This happened in an instant. Within a second," said Terence Monahan, the chief of department of the NYPD, at a news conference about two and-a-half hours after the incident.

Police say the knife pictured was used to stab a person in Manhattan on Feb. 8, 2019. The accused attacked was shot dead by police. (NYPD)

Chief Monahan explained that the fatal incident at 227 Cherry Street that brought out dozens of detectives, evidence analysts, crime scene investigators and other law enforcement was a response to a 911 call.    

"The 911 caller said his partner had him barricaded in the bathroom and he was violating an order of protection," said the chief.  

Police arrived swiftly, Monahan said, and, having entered through an open door, two officers were able to reach 32-year-old Joshua Rember Williams, who was hiding in a back room closet.  The man willingly agreed to leave with the officers, said Chief Monahan, who'd viewed the incident on video that had been recorded on the officers' bodycams.

Then, suddenly, according to the chief, "As he's walking out, he immediately grabs the knife, goes toward his partner.  At that point the officers go immediately toward their weapons, [draw them], and discharge them out."

The man used an 11-inch knife, with a seven-inch blade, to slash his 42-year-old partner in the face, according to the NYPD. They said that the attack also left a puncture wound in the victim's upper body.  The knife victim is in stable condition.

Monahan said that it was clear on the bodycam video that police gave CPR to the alleged attacker, but he was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital.

"Oh my God, it's horrible," said one resident, Alexandra Bankratova.  Like all of the residents in the 200-unit building, she'd only recently moved in.  Construction on the building was only completed a few months ago, and residents began moving in late last year.  "This building looks safe, and oh my God. Sorry," said Bankratova, as she became overcome with emotion.

In contrast, a resident from a neighboring building had a different reaction.  

"I'm not surprised at all," said Trevor Holland.  He's the head of a local residents' association. He said that all of the buildings in the neighborhood have security guards, or doormen, except the new building.  Holland said that on its first day open, local residents had to call police there for an incident. He said that police calls to the building have remained frequent.

"[Having] security isn't going to prevent everything," Holland said, "but it's a deterrent."

Clinton Davidson, who lives on the same floor where the knife attack and shooting happened, said that security guards could be more effective at protecting residents than the building's current electronic key fob entry system.  

"With something like this happening," Davidson said, "maybe we need to start thinking about it, at least."

The property management company, Wavecrest Management, issued a statement on Friday afternoon:  "We are very saddened by this morning’s events. Our residents’ safety and security is of the utmost importance to us.  We are fully cooperating with law enforcement agencies."

The NYPD's press conference on the shooting:

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