BALTIMORE (CN) - The mother of an abused wife whose husband murdered her outside a courthouse claims he was able to commit the crime because his "friends on the Baltimore City Police Department conspired with him to make certain he remained free despite a warrant for his immediate arrest."
Cleaven Williams Jr. was convicted of murdering his wife, Veronica, in 2009 and is in prison. He is named as a defendant along with the Baltimore City Police Department and its Officer Daniel Lioi, who was deputy major of the Baltimore Police's Eastern District at the time of the killing.
The plaintiffs, Veronica Williams' mother and cousin, say Cleaven Williams Jr. was "a public figure well known to police as a community organizer and the president of the Greater Greenmount Community Association."
But, his mother-in-law says, "Shortly after they were married, Cleaven began a campaign of physical and mental abuse against Veronica which escalated over the course of their marriage until Cleaven ultimately murdered Veronica on or about November 17, 2008.
"In the weeks before Mrs. Williams' death, she filed assault charges against her husband.
"As a result of the charges, a warrant was issued for Mr. Williams' arrest.
"Mr. William would have been easy to serve had any honest effort been made towards this end. He was a public figure well known to police as a community organizer and the president of the Greater Greenmount Community Association.
"Instead of using their prior knowledge of Mr. Williams to aid in his capture and arrest, police, including defendant Lioi, allowed themselves to be improperly influence by the prior relationship with Williams.
"Preferential treatment was afforded to Mr. Williams.
"First, the police, including defendant Lioi, intentionally and negligently failed to follow normal procedures in attempting to serve the warrant. Instead of sending it to a special domestic violence unit, Eastern District officers, who knew Mr. Williams, withheld the warrant so that they could retain control over whether or not it would be served.
"Second, officers, including defendant Lioi, warned Mr. Williams of the warrant and their feigned efforts to serve him, including, but not limited to, by sending him text messages. This allowed Williams to evade capture.
"Third, Mr. Williams contacted the police, including defendant Lioi, on November 14, 2008 and said he would come in, but when he arrived at the Eastern District precinct, the police, including defendant Lioi, purposefully refused to serve or arrest him, falsely claiming instead that the warrant allegedly could not be found. This was an intentional and malicious act, by the same officers who withheld the warrant from the domestic violence unit, for the purpose of allowing Mr. Williams to remain free despite the warrant."
The Baltimore Sun reported after the killing that a second warrant for Williams was also pending, in connection with a 2003 shooting, and that William's cousin Carlin Robinson, the lead plaintiff in this case, "said Cleaven Williams cultivated relationships with police and other civic leaders over the years ... [and] accused him of using those ties to dissuade his wife from going to authorities for help."
Veronica had to go into hiding while waiting for her husband to be arrested, but a court date on a protective order against Cleaven "provided a rare window of opportunity for Mr. Williams because he was provided with notice of the hearing and knew where Veronica would be at that time despite the fact that she was otherwise in hiding," according to the complaint.
On Nov. 17, 2008, a judge granted Veronica her the protective order, but "as Ms. Williams left the courtroom that day, Cleaven Williams attacked and stabbed her repeatedly. The stabbing took place in broad daylight just one block from the Eastside Court on North Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland," according to the complaint.
"At the time of the stabbing, Mrs. Williams was three to six weeks pregnant with the couple's fourth child.
"On or about November 20, 2008, Mrs. Williams miscarried her child as a result of the injuries inflicted by Mr. Williams. On the same day, Ms. Williams also died or her injuries."
The complaint adds: "it should go without saying that Mrs. Williams had a right to demand that the police do their jobs rather than conspire with her murderer, thereby giving him the opportunity to kill her."
Carlin Robinson, the lead plaintiff, has custody of Williams' three children. Veronica Williams' mother Eunice Graves also is a plaintiff.
They seek punitive damages for due process violations, conspiracy and wrongful death.
They say: "As a result of the affirmative actions of the Baltimore Police Department and certain of its officers to protect Williams, he was allowed to murder his wife. Her children will now grow up without their mother and her mother must now face the death of her own child as a direct result of the misconduct of all of the defendants in this case."
They are represented by Cary Hansel with Joseph, Greenwald and Laake, of Greenbelt, and Daniel Cox, of Frederick, Md.
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