Innocent man cuffed and questioned, family shares traumatic experience

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. — Thursday, 23-year-old Tyshan Gayton allegedly shot at a police officer on the 300 block of E. Frye.

The U.S. Marshals were looking for Gayton regarding a shooting incident over the weekend. Officers attempted to serve him with a warrant, but before they could Gayton fled the scene, prompting officers to search the neighborhood.

Police found a man who they said fit the description of Gayton. However, the guy they handcuffed and questioned was an innocent man named Terry Williams.

Williams’s mother, Clorissa Nickels, raced home from work after getting a call from her fearful children, informing her that police officers surrounded their home.

I was at work. I got a phone call about 1:45, 2 o’clock or so. My daughters [is] like mom you need to come home quick there’s a bunch of cops here they got guns they pulled guns on TJ.

Clorissa Nickels, Mother of Terry Williams

Nickels described what was going through her head. She didn’t want her children to open that door and let officers in the house.

Williams was in his yard when officers spotted him. Shortly after, he ran into the house to find his sister Ladaisha Steen-Yates. She said he told her that the police tried to arrest him.

“I’m like are you serious like what’s going on I’m thinking he’s playing a joke,” Steen-Yates said.

Williams wasn’t joking. The police stood outside their home urging him to come outside.

Steen-Yates said she called 911 asking for help, but the operator also told them to exit their home.

“It kind of felt almost like [betrayal] because I’m like we’re calling you for help to understand the situation and you’re telling us, ‘no’ you need to go outside,” she said.

At that point, Steen-Yates said she thought the worse.

“I [thought] that I was gonna go outside with my hands up and they were gonna come in and shoot my brother,” she said.

Their parents arrived outside the home asking police several questions and urging them not to hurt the kids.

Nickels told officers that her son is not the man they are looking for, urging them not to hurt her son. She then called her children asking them to come outside, they were hesitant.

“He even told me when he was on the phone when I called him to come outside, he was like ‘naw’ I’m not coming outside. I was like why and he’s like because they’re going to shoot me,” Nickels said.

Eventually, the kids came outside and Steen-Yates was handcuffed first.

“They ended up having me walk backward to them, they cuffed me which is kind of like embarrassing. I’m like I don’t even have anything on me, you’re not even looking for a female,” she said.

They handcuffed Williams next and questioned them at a restaurant next door to their home. Officers realized Williams was not the suspect they had been looking for, released the children then apologized to the family.

The family said they had an emotional night, but thank God that no one was physically hurt.

However, Williams now lives in fear. He refuses to stay home right now after Thursday’s incident and insists on staying with relatives.

Steen-Yates said the entire ordeal was terrifying at that police could have handled it better, her mother agrees.

Nickels said she and her husband William Nickels did not sleep Thursday, spending the entire night tossing and turning in bed.

“Before you come rushing up in someone’s home you have to be 100% sure that person is in that house because it’s very traumatic,” Nickels said.

The family is also questioning the police about broken fencing around their home. They suspect that it was damaged during the investigation.

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