BROOKLYN, N.Y. (PIX11) – Charges against Jordan Williams were dismissed Wednesday after he was found to have acted in self-defense when he allegedly stabbed a man to death on a subway train in Brooklyn earlier this month, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said.
Williams, 20, was charged with manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon for the stabbing death of 36-year-old Devictor Ouedraogo on a J train on June 13. Ouedraogo had been acting belligerent and violent before Williams allegedly stabbed him in the chest with a knife, according to police.
“Our office conducted an impartial and thorough investigation of this tragic case, which included review of multiple videos and interviews with all available witnesses, and that evidence was fairly presented to a grand jury. Today, the charges against Jordan Williams have been dismissed,” a spokesperson for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said.
Williams’ lawyer had argued his client acted in self-defense to protect his girlfriend and others on the train.
“It’s very clear some action was necessary and justified at that time,” defense attorney Jason Goldman previously said.
A grand jury determined Williams’ use of force was justified, a source told PIX11 News. Ouedraogo was seen on video choking Williams with both hands before the stabbing occurred, the source added.
“Under New York law, a person is justified in using deadly physical force when they reasonably believe it is necessary to use such force to defend themselves or others from imminent use of deadly or unlawful physical force,” the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office spokesperson said.
Ouedraogo had been experiencing homelessness and was an ex-convict, according to state records. Williams does not have a criminal history.
“This was a tragic encounter that we can only hope does not become the norm. Jordan and his loved ones are grateful and relieved that the grand jury saw this for what it was,” Goldman said in a statement Wednesday.
Williams walked into his Queens home Wednesday evening with the weight of the world off his shoulders.
“I’m grateful you guys gave me a second chance,” Williams said of the 23-member jury panel that voted to not indict him.
Williams said he was surprised at their vote, after testifying just hours earlier.
“When I was in there talking to them, I was nervous because I didn’t think they would understand or believe me,” Williams said.
If he had been tried and convicted, Williams could have faced prison time.
“I never meant for [Ouedraogo] to pass away. I just meant for me to survive,” Williams recalled.
Williams’ girlfriend, Yasmeen Ratliff, was with him on the train when the stabbing happened. She said she is also grateful.
“Now here we are on the other side, and I’m just grateful,” Ratliff said.
The Williams family has a message for those fearful of their own safety on the subway: “We suggest you be aware of your surroundings and you pay attention to what’s going on,” said Williams’ mother, April Williams.