Man dies after Bayonne fight is broken up with pepper spray

Joe Torres talks to the family of a Bayonne man who died after a fight.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
A 51-year-old man is dead following a fight Tuesday afternoon that police broke up using pepper spray.

Peter Lee Williams was pronounced dead at Bayonne Medical Center after he collapsed following a fight at an apartment building on Avenue C in Bayonne.

According to a statement from the Bayonne Police Department, around 4 p.m., officers responded to 17th Street and Avenue C where they found between 20 and 30 people involved in several altercations.

Another group of about 12 people was fighting nearby in the lobby of an apartment building. When those people failed to respond after the officer told them to stop, the statement said, the officer used pepper spray to disperse the group.

The fight broke up, but minutes later Williams, who was at the scene, collapsed on the sidewalk. He was treated on site and taken to the hospital where he died around 5:30 p.m.

Margaret Baker, Williams' cousin, witnessed the incident Tuesday. Before the officer pepper sprayed the group, Williams tried to break up the scuffle, which involved his 16-year-old daughter, she said.

"He falls back. He hit his head. He's convulsing at the mouth," she said. "Foam coming out of his mouth ... he's shaking."

Williams' brother, Mark, blamed the pepper spray for his brother's death. "The bottom line is my brother would still be here if they had not used any chemicals," he said.

Bayonne's police chief and public information lieutenant were unavailable for comment, but in the statement police said they tried to save Williams. "Officers on the scene provided immediate medical aid," it says, "and the individual was transported to Bayonne Medical Center."

There are two memorials for Williams, one at his home and the other where he died.

"I'm just trying to keep it together for my kids and my granddaughter and my family," said Williams' wife, Jamie Mitchell.

"My daughter seen everything. My daughter is so psychologically messed up right now ..."

The medical examiner is working to determine the cause of death.
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