Family says Bayonne officer's pepper spray contributed to Peter Lee Williams' death

Peter Lee Williams, 51, died Tuesday shortly after witnesses say he tried to break up a fight involving his teenage daughter. (6/11/14)

BAYONNE - Relatives of a Bayonne man say a police officer's pepper spray caused his death and are waiting on test results to prove it.

Peter Lee Williams, 51, died Tuesday shortly after witnesses say he tried to break up a fight involving his teenage daughter.

Witnesses say a responding officer used pepper spray on the group trying to bring things under control.

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Relatives say Williams was in frail health and the pepper spray was more than he could take.

Margaret Baker says Williams, her cousin, had been in the vestibule at 403 Avenue C trying to protect his daughter from two other teen girls.

When Bayonne police arrived, she says one officer used pepper spray on the group inside. "He immediately came in and started macing everyone that was inside." 

The victim's daughter came out first, choking, witnesses say, followed by her father. "We came over to him to see if he was OK, and we were trying to calm him down because he's sick," Baker says. "He goes on dialysis. He has a heart problem."

Witnesses say he went down hard, hitting his head. Baker says a defibrillator was used on her cousin until he had a pulse. But Williams was pronounced dead at Bayonne Medical Center about an hour and a half later.

"I talked to him an hour prior to all this," says his wife, Jamie Williams. "He was fine. And I come to the hospital to find my husband's dead." 

In a statement released today, Bayonne police say Williams appeared to be suffering from an "unknown medical issue."

Investigators are now waiting on autopsy results to determine Williams' cause of death.

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