Recently released body camera footage of the 2022 arrest of an Army reservist in her home on a desertion charge shows police breaking down the door of the woman’s home at gunpoint as she cared for her 1-year-old child.

Sgt. 1st Class Shantaya Williams was charged with desertion after she failed to accept a transfer from her human resources position in Texas to another position in Virginia.

The footage was first obtained by CBS News Texas in Grand Prairie, Texas, where the arrest occurred.

“The Army has ignored my repeated requests to have her medically separated and processed for her PTSD and post partum depression that started this entire process,” her attorney, Sean Timmons, wrote in an email response to Army Times. “Her command is grossly negligent, completely derelict and vindictive as evidenced by repeated bad faith refusals to negotiate a reasonable plea agreement in good faith.”

Body camera footage from Nov. 30, 2022 arrest of Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Shantaya Williams (Grand Prairie (Texas) Police Department)

Timmons called his client’s case “the most egregious abuse of power I have ever encountered in my 11 years in private practice.”

“She was medically incapacitated, at home, breastfeeding her baby when U.S. Marshals and local police smoke grenaded her house, railroaded down her door and flash grenaded her property like it was a raid on a drug lord,” Timmons told a CBS News affiliate in Texas.

Williams is an Iraq War veteran who entered the Army in 1997. She fought her transfer from 2nd Battalion, 381st Army Regiment in Texas to the 497th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion in Virginia. At the time she cited post-traumatic stress disorder treatment, a new baby and child custody struggles she hoped would help her appeal the transfer.

She was charged with desertion on Oct. 29, 2022, and Grand Prairie police and U.S. Marshals arrested her under allegations of desertion on Nov. 30, 2022.

Timmons previously told Army Times that his client’s situation was a bureaucratic mistake that resulted in excessive force.

“The allegation that she is a deserter is defamatory, outrageous, salacious and unsupported by any evidence,” he said.

The Army first notified Williams in February 2022 of her transfer, Timmons said. She was ordered to her new unit between Sept. 28 and Oct. 28, 2022.

The sergeant continued to petition the transfer and was alerted that she would be put on AWOL status, Timmons said. But she was still working remotely and had not yet been out-processed by her current unit when she was arrested.

Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith shared the following statement in December 2022 with local Texas media:

“The Army Reserve dropped Sgt. 1st Class Shantaya Williams from unit rolls according to law and regulation. Her command remained in contact with her while she was away from the unit and made several attempts to address her concerns. On Oct. 29, a deserter warrant for Williams was initiated after her chain of command confirmed her absence without leave for 60 days. On Nov. 30, the U.S. Marshals Service executed the warrant pursuant to USMS policies and regulations. On Dec. 10, the USMS transferred her to the custody of the U.S. Army Personnel Control Facility at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.”

Williams remains in partial detention at Fort Sill as of Wednesday. She is deemed a flight risk but allowed to return home on weekends, CBS News Texas reported.

Timmons said Williams has twice agreed to plea deals with military prosecutors, who have then rescinded their offers and are seeking to strip her of retirement benefits and give her an other-than-honorable discharge.

“SFC Williams agreed to a nonjudicial punishment where her over 20 years of honorable service would still be recognized,” Timmons wrote. “The government counsel pulled the rug out from under her yet again by now requiring her to plead guilty at a court-martial and be discharged from the Army with an Other than Honorable characterization of service, which carries considerable stigma and disgrace, which she does not deserve.”

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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