Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) today announced that the charges against ATF Special Agent William G. Clark of Rochester have been dismissed. Special Agent Clark was falsely charged with second degree murder and additional charges after coming to the aid of a battered woman who pleaded for his help two years ago.
In September 2008, Special Agent Clark was stationed in the U.S. Virgin Islands to combat rising gun violence. One morning he came across a domestic dispute between a neighbor and her boyfriend, who was drunk and on drugs. Special Agent Clark's neighbor was being threatened and pleaded for his assistance. While protecting his female neighbor from being beaten, Special Agent Clark was charged by her boyfriend, who was swinging a large metal flashlight after he threatened to retrieve a gun. Special Agent Clark fired in self defense. The man subsequently died from his injuries and Special Agent Clark was charged with second degree murder as well as additional charges.
"As I have said from the beginning, Will is a hero, not a murderer, and I'm so grateful the Judge looked at the facts of the case and agreed," said Congressman Lee. "Our law enforcement officers need to know that they will not be prosecuted for taking lawful actions to protect the innocent, whether they are on duty or off. I'm proud to say that today, justice was served with the dismissal of the charges against Will Clark."
A Justice Department incident review panel, which included law enforcement agencies apart from ATF, has cleared Special Agent Clark, who remains on active duty. The panel unanimously found that Special Agent Clark "was acting within his scope of employment and authority. [His] actions were in compliance with ATF policies and procedures including whether the use of deadly force was necessary. [Lastly,] there was no evidence of misconduct or inappropriate action" on the part of Special Agent Clark. The Justice Department is bearing the costs of Clark's legal defense.
Congressman Lee has been a leading voice in Congress in standing up for Will and the biased prosecution. In addition to today's event, Congressman Lee participated in public rallies in support of Special Agent Clark and introduced a resolution honoring Special Agent Clark for his "heroic actions, exemplary service, and selfless acts to protect the lives of others." Lee has also written to his colleagues to inform them of the injustice being done to Special Agent Clark and the USVI Governor John P. deJongh asking for a Department of Justice review of the incident, and spoke about Special Agent Clark on the House Floor. (To watch Congressman Lee speak about Special Agent Clark on the House Floor click HERE, to read the resolution click HERE, to read Congressman Lee's letter to his colleagues click HERE, and to read Lee's letter to Governor deJongh click HERE).
Lee also commended law enforcement officials from across the country, including numerous agencies in Western New York, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), as well as the ATF and FBI, for the incredible outpouring of support for Special Agent Clark and his family.