Black surgeon who worked to save cops shot in sniper attacks tells of terrifying personal experiences with police

Spread-eagle, off duty Air Force lieutenant Brian Williams was instructed to put his hands on the hood of the police cruiser.

He had been pulled over by cops after running a red light and was terrified by the overly aggressive nature of the routine stop.

Sadly, the young black man grew to realize it was the color of his skin behind the harsh treatment and the first of many such encounters to come.

Today, Dr Brian Williams, 47, is a trauma surgeon at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and is one of the physicians who treated the wounded and dying police officers shot in the sniper attacks last week.

Dr. Williams, with his wife and five-year-old daughter, denounced the shooting and insisted that people of all races need to come together to 'end all this'

Dr. Williams says he has encountered the police many times during his life, mainly through routine traffic stops, and claims his experience is typical of most black men in America

On Monday he made a powerful and emotional speech during a press conference at Parkland which aired across America.

Welling up with tears he said: ‘This killing, it has to stop. Black men dying, it has to stop.’

Dr. Williams denounced the shooting and insisted that people of all races need to come together to ‘end all this’.

But live on air he also admitted that, as a black man in Texas, he felt conflicted.

‘I understand the anger and the frustration and distrust of law enforcement, but they are not the problem,’ he said as he wrestled with his emotions.

‘The problem is open discussions about the impact of race relations in this country.’

In an exclusive interview with Daily Mail Online Dr. Williams details the reason he feels so conflicted, and he reveals a string of bad experiences that have led to an inherent fear of law enforcement.

Dr. Williams points out that police haven¿t ever used racist or pejorative language towards him

Dr. Williams became a surgeon after a short career in the US Air Force following in the foot steps of his father

Dr. Williams says he has encountered the police many times during his life, mainly through routine traffic stops, and claims his experience is typical of most black men in America.

Speaking from inside the state-of-the-art Level I Trauma Center where he tended to the shooting victims last week, he told Daily Mail Online: ‘My experiences they go back decades, one after the other, they become internalized.

‘And it’s a combination of my own experiences and an oral history I receive from my friends and family members that have gone through the same thing, we don’t just make this up, this happens.

‘I remember running a red light when I was in the Air Force.

‘I was in civilian clothes and I was pulled over and the officer made me get out and I was spread-eagle and made to put my hands on the hood of the car.

‘Most other people just get to sit in their car. I definitely did wrong, but it was a minor traffic thing, it didn’t merit the response.’

On another occasion Dr. Williams was stopped by police for speeding and inexplicably he had to wait until a second officer arrived before he was given a ticket.

With each experience and regularly seeing news reports of black men killed by police, Dr. Williams said he grew to believe he too could be shot by a nervy officer.

Portraits of the five fallen police officers sit in front of a stage after a candle light vigil in front of city hall honoring them, on Monday, in Dallas. Four Dallas police officers and one DART officer were killed and several injured during a shooting in downtown Dallas last Thursday night

Police officers take part in a candlelight vigil at City Hall in Dallas, Texas, on Monday following Thursday's shooting

He said: ‘I became mindful each time that I must act and speak in a way that doesn’t seem threatening. I must remain respectful, compliant and don’t make any sudden moves.’

Just a couple of years ago, Dr. Williams recalls being stopped by an officer and questioned as he stood outside his Dallas apartment complex waiting for someone to pick him up and drive him to the airport.

‘Someone called in a report and police questioned me and asked me why I was there. I had to prove to them that I actually lived there,’ he said.

‘It did not become physically violent but my initial reaction was visceral, I was like I need to watch what I say here because this could turn bad.’

The doctor concedes that the officers were just doing their job, but the experience and the general behavior of the police made him ‘fear’ for his safety.

He added that such encounters had a strong impact on him personally.

‘I’m always just praying for the encounter to end,’ he said.

Dr. Williams points out that police haven’t ever used racist or pejorative language towards him, but he says: ‘There are subtle things, micro-aggressions, they are not overt but make you fearful. Their actions leave room for plausible deniability.’

What’s worse is that when he’s walking down the street in his white doctor’s coat and blue scrubs Dr. Williams sees a marked difference in how he’s treated by law enforcement.

The medic doesn’t want to blame individual officers – many of whom are colleagues and friends – but feels there’s a wider problem.

‘There are systemic issues of racism that exist in this country that are not being addressed appropriately,’ he explains.

‘I don’t know that we can fix everything but we can certainly have an open discussion and acknowledge that, yes this does exist.’

On Thursday the killer, black US Army veteran Micah Johnson, opened fire at police during a peaceful protest.

Johnson told officers he was carrying out the horrific attack because he wanted to kill white people, ‘especially white officers’, in the wake of last week’s fatal shootings of black men by officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and outside St Paul, Minnesota.

The first call about an officer being shot came in to Parkland Hospital at around 9pm, moments later, there was a flurry of notifications about more victims.

It quickly became clear that something catastrophic had happened.

Five officers were killed, nine others were injured as well as two civilians – the deadliest attack on police since 9/11.

The hospital’s 12 trauma bay’s quickly filled up and the hallways were abuzz with activity and lines of concerned officers praying for their downed colleagues.

Dr. Williams reckons he walked past the crowd of officers dozens of times.

He says: ‘I certainly during that time felt the despair they were going through. I knew that they were angry at this assailant. It was palpable and I felt it.

‘But I also had an understanding of where that anger against police came from. Not that I condone what happened. I certainly abhor the results. But I can see where the roots of that have been laid.’

Overwhelmed by the loss of life and the conflict preying on his mind, Dr. Williams says he became very emotional and had to take himself off to a quiet hallway.

His voice faltering, he said: ‘We worked feverishly for a long time that night. All I wanted to do was save those police officers. And we did everything but we couldn’t do it.

‘The moment (breaking point) for me was after I spoke to all the families and gave them this bad news, it wasn’t until then that the emotions really interfered with my ability to do my job.

‘I went in to one of the back hallways. I wanted to be by myself, I didn’t want to be seen by anybody because I didn’t know what kind of impact that would have on people doing their jobs because we still had a lot of work to do.

Johnson told police he was carrying out the horrific attack because he wanted to kill white people, 'especially white officers' in the wake of last week's fatal shootings of black men by officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and outside St. Paul, Minnesota 

‘I’ve done this for a long time and that’s the first time I had to stop to gather myself.’

Dr. Williams explained that it wasn’t simply because of the volume of wounded police officers who had arrived at the trauma center or the level of suffering he was witnessing, he said it was something more.

He says: ‘For me all those emotions from my past came to bear.

‘My own personal experiences with law enforcement where I’ve feared for my safety and my understanding of how the protesters feel.

‘But I work with police officers on a daily basis, they are my colleagues, they are my friends.

‘And I could not understand why someone thought it was okay to shoot police officers because of this.’

On the morning after the attack Dr. Williams says he discussed his ‘fear’ of law enforcement with a cop at the hospital.

‘He came up to me and he apologized, on behalf of all police officers, for my experience. I didn’t know how to respond, it’s not his fault but he felt like he had to apologize,’ he said.

¿I became mindful each time that I must act and speak in a way that doesn't seem threatening. I must remain respectful, compliant and don¿t make any sudden moves,' the doctor said

An honor guard procession marches to a "Dallas Strong" candlelight vigil outside City Hall in Dallas, Texas, on Monday in honor of the five slain police officers

He went to the University of South Florida Medical School from 1997 to 2001, before his residency in general surgery at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital from 2001 to 2008.

He also completed a fellowship program in trauma and surgical critical care at Emory University School of Medicine from 2008 to 2010.

Dr. Williams has been at Parkland – the same hospital where President John F Kennedy was brought after he was shot – as an acute care surgeon since 2010.

He is also an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The senior medic now feels like the suffering of the families of the dead and injured officers has been somewhat diminished by the wave of Black Lives Matter protests happening across America.

Holding back tears, he added: ‘I want them to all know that I think about them, I think about those officers every day.’

Dr. Williams describes the current situation as ‘toxic and destructive’.

But while he doesn’t claim to have a solution, he says there needs to be ‘open and honest discussion’ about the issues that face the nation.

‘Black men are dying at the hands of police and they are quickly forgotten,’ he says. ‘That has to be addressed. Protesters are attacking law enforcement, that has to be addressed.

‘Law enforcement I assume are becoming apprehensive about doing their job, you can’t keep blaming the other side, at some point we have to acknowledge that this is an issue that permeates our society.’

Parkland Health & Hospital System is one of the largest public hospital systems in the country.

Services include a Level I Trauma Center, the second largest civilian burn center in the US and a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The new 2.8million square foot hospital campus averages about 65,000 discharges and one million outpatient visits annually.

For more information, visit

Source: The DailyMail

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