Slain sheriff’s family says they did not authorize lawsuit against Lowndes Co. Commission

The law firm representing Joanne Williams says she signed the lawsuit
Updated: Nov. 27, 2019 at 3:27 PM CST
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LOWNDES COUNTY Ala. (WSFA) - The family of slain Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams says they did not authorize a lawsuit to be filed against the county commission requesting Workers Compensation related to his death.

“There was a complete misunderstanding about what was being done on behalf of Ms. Williams,” a statement from the family said. “It’s been demanded that the lawsuit be dismissed.”

The lawsuit that is being dismissed, filed Wednesday, sought compensation under the Alabama Workers Compensation Act. The suit asked for payment of all funeral expenses, damages and compensation, and the coverage for any court costs that may be incurred.

According to Ed Kendall, the attorney with the law firm representing Joanne Williams, wife of Sheriff Williams, said Joanne Williams signed the lawsuit authorizing the Strickland & Kendall law firm to to file it.

“Mrs. Williams agreed to have the suit filed,” a statement from Kendall reads. “The case was voluntarily dismissed and there are negotiations now underway to reach a settlement.”

Williams’ family said their legal representation has been terminated.

The suit alleged Williams was working in his official capacity at the time of his murder on the night of Nov. 23. Earlier Wednesday, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama said no Workers Compensation claim had been filed on behalf of Williams.

“Nevertheless, he was clearly on duty within the scope of his job when this tragedy occurred,” according to ACCA. "The Association will take care of Sheriff Williams’ workers’ compensation expenses to the fullest extent of the law, as it does in all situations such as this.”

According to the filed suit, Williams was called on his personal cellphone to the QV gas station in Hayneville by a business. The suit said the owner told Williams that several young adults and juveniles were gathered in the parking lot of the gas station, blocking access to the gas pumps, playing loud music and causing a disturbance.

Williams drove to the gas station in his Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department truck, the lawsuit stated.

The suit alleged the sheriff was speaking with someone at the scene before William Chase Johnson got out of his truck and approached him.

“William Chase Johnson exited his truck with his pistol in hand. William Chase Johnson approached “Big John” Williams without provocation and shot Sheriff “Big John” Williams while he was fulfilling his duties as Sheriff of Lowndes County, Alabama,” the suit stated.

Johnson has been charged in Williams’ death.

Williams’ funeral has been scheduled to take place Monday Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. inside the Garrett Coliseum.

Copyright 2019 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.