It was his smile, unpredictable sense of humor and love of family that continue to emerge as thoughts are shared about Waxahachie Police Officer Josh Williams, who was killed Saturday in the line of duty.
Those who have been left in the wake of the17-year Waxahachie Police Department veteran’s sudden death were all in agreement that Williams was a man who was respected and loved in many ways. His prankster attitude combined with a serious work ethic made him stand out in many ways.
Williams very simply was authentic to the core.
Waxahachie Police Chief Chuck Edge recalled the first time he met Williams.
“I was at city council, and I was waiting to be confirmed to get this job,” Edge said. “Josh was standing next to me, and as most folks know, I can’t hear real well. Now I wear hearing aids because of this incident with Josh.”
As Edge started to laugh as he recalled this memory, and as he looked down, he shook his head smiling.
“Josh had a gold tooth, and Josh had a big smile,” Edge said. “So as I’m standing there, and he smiles, I see that gold tooth looking back at me. And then Josh said, ‘what do you think about gold teeth?” I then replied, that they’re OK if you need them. He kind of looked at me odd, and my wife was standing there and so did she.
“Well, come to find out that’s not what he asked,” the chief explained. “Josh also wore a goatee, and so my answer didn’t quite fit the question. I’m sure he kind of wondered, who are they fixing to hire.”
Edge also commented that he reminds his officers there is an open policy with his office, and he said Williams took that literally.
“I could pretty much tell when Josh rotated to days, because he would walk in my office,” Edge said. “He would look around the room and say, ‘Chief, just looking to see if you have anything hanging on the walls.’ Then he’d wave goodbye and walk out. That’s just part of the fun and games that helps us deal with the stressful times here, and that’s part of what I’m going to miss the most about him.”
Pete Borjas, who had Williams as a field trainer in the Waxahachie Police Department, said their working relationship had grown into one of brotherhood.
“Josh, who had 17 years under his belt still had so much to share with all of us,” Borjas said. “He trained me for six weeks, and even though he was 12 years older than me, he still had such a neat attitude. He didn’t mind hanging with the younger guys, and now that I look back, it was probably his way of watching out for us.”
Borjas added that as an officer in training, he especially struggled with the late nights, and Williams found a way to make a point with this.
“Josh was good about reminding me to stay awake during those late night hours,” Borjas said. “And, after the third time of having to do this, he told me to just roll down my window when I started to get sleepy. And, as Josh would only do, just as I followed his instructions, he put my window on lock, and pulled up to a sprinkler system going off. Needless to say, it was Josh’s way of making a point with his great sense of humor.”
Another Waxahachie officer, Abe Partington, shared his thoughts about Williams take on life.
“I was freshly released from training, and I got into a foot chase with a local drug dealer,” Partington said. “The suspect ran right by Josh, close enough that if Josh hung his arm out, he could have clothes-lined the suspect. Instead he (Williams) watched me chase and catch the guy. Josh walked up laughing at me with his huge smile and said ‘I was just seeing if you could catch him on your own.’”
Even though Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Philip Slaughter didn’t work with Williams daily, when their paths crossed it made for a better day.
“I considered Josh a friend, as did many of us here at the Sheriff’s Office,” Slaughter said. “There were some occasions when I would be having a bad night or just had left a bad call, and I could bump into Josh somewhere and after a few minutes of talking to him, I would be laughing and smiling. He always had something funny to say.”
Slaughter added that he had also been out on some tough calls with Williams, and there was one that had an interesting ending.
“I recall working off duty one night a few years ago where another deputy and I found ourselves surrounded by 20-plus subjects while we were attempting to restrain an intoxicated subject,” Slaughter said. “Several Waxahachie Police officers arrived to assist us, and Josh was one of them. I remember him walking up to me smiling and asking if I was OK. I remember him laughing and making a comment about me not being able to handle a crowd by myself. That was his way of making light of the situation. He really was a funny guy.”
Matthew Murrey, a lieutenant with the sheriff’s office, talked with Williams the evening before he was killed.
“I was on the way home that night, and I noticed a WPD squad car and a fire engine on a side street with their lights on,” Murrey said. “I drove up to them to make sure everything was OK. That was the last time I saw him (Williams). We made small talk and cracked a joke for a minute, and I told him I was at the end of my shift and was going home if they didn’t need me. We shook hands and I left.”
Murrey said when he got the call a few hours later that Williams had passed ago, he couldn’t believe it.
“I just talked to him, this must be a mistake,” Murrey said. “Unfortunately, it is not. We will miss our fallen brother and stand strong together as we grieve. Life is fragile.”
Williams also touched the lives of those who worked in various aspects of the community, and Elizabeth Vinecourt was one of those.
“Officer Williams was one of the regular officers that provided security at Citizens National Bank during the time that I worked there,” Vinecourt said. “He would come in on Fridays, and although he was cordial, he got straight to work. One day I decided to break the ice and spark up a conversation, so I asked him about his family. To see this strong, pillar of a man that normally seemed so unemotional, transform into a proud father and husband was truly breathtaking.
“His face glowed as he talked about his daughters and the current things happening in their lives,” she explained. “He talked about his wife and how he was outnumbered in a house full of women. I could tell his family was his purpose through every word he spoke.”
Waxahachie City Manager Paul Stevens shared his thoughts about Williams.
“Josh was a true professional and had a servant’s heart,” Stevens said. “He always had a smile on his face and a kind word to say. He was a tremendous role model for the young officers and exemplified what a police officer should be. He will be missed.”
Even though Williams no longer is here physically, many are left to remember his jokes, his laugh and most of all, his smile. The community and others in this area have pooled together efforts to share support with the family Williams loved so much.
“A fund has been set up at CNB here in town,” Edge said. “I also delivered a check for $25,000 from the Russ Martin Radio Show in Dallas, and Guns and Hoses Foundation of North Texas gave one for $10,000. The Texas Police Chiefs Association at the regional director’s office will also be providing one, and I intend to deliver it to the family tomorrow morning.”
If you would like to make a contribution to the Josh Williams fund, you can do that at any branch of CNB. You can also mail a check into CNB, P.O. Box 717, Waxahachie, Texas 75168.
Funeral services for Williams are scheduled at 10 a.m. Friday at the Waxahachie Civic Center located at 2000 Civic Center Lane.
Follow Colleen on twitter at firstname.lastname@example.org, which is also her email or www.facebook.com/colleenhorningwdl or contact her at 469-517-1452.