The DEA Honor Roll
Official Line of Duty Deaths
Keith L. Williams
Shield Number: 4101
Command: Queens DA's Office Squad
Date of Death: 11/13/1989
Cause of Death: Shot and Killed by Prisoner
On November 13th, 1989, Detectives Richard J. Guerzon and Keith L. Williams, assigned to the Queens District Attorney’s Office Squad, were transporting a prisoner, who had come in for a polygraph test, back to Rikers Island. They were on the Grand Central Parkway in Elmhurst, Queens, when their prisoner, Jay (Stoney) Harrison, pulled out a stolen gun and shot both Detectives, striking each three times from behind. The prisoner then stole a handcuff key, uncuffed himself, and dragged Det. Guerzon out of the vehicle onto the roadway, in an attempt to flee in the car. Unsuccessful, he fled on foot toward LaGuardia Airport. In the hours that followed, numerous Officers searched the area. Harrison was found ten hours later hiding at his girlfriend’s house in Brooklyn’s East New York section, where he was arrested and charged with murder, escape, and possession of a weapon. He was tried and sentenced to life in prison.
Born in Jamaica, Queens, Keith Williams began his career at the Department of Corrections. On July 13, 1981, he was appointed to the NYPD. He was promoted to Detective on September 28, 1987. Five months later, he was transferred to the Queens District Attorney’s Office Squad. He was killed one week before his 35th birthday. He was survived by his wife and daughter, his mother, and five sisters.
Det. Guerzon, 46, was a 20-year veteran of the NYPD and had been with the Queens DA’s Squad for eight years. He was appointed March 14, 1969, and promoted to Detective on June 10, 1981. He earned second grade on December 23, 1985. He was survived by his wife and four sons, his parents, and four siblings.
The investigation into the cold-blooded executions of the Detectives revealed that the prisoner had been left alone in a muster room at the DA’s office and only handcuffed with one arm. With his free arm, he was able to reach into an unlocked police locker and stole a firearm, which he hid on his body. The case resulted in the change of several procedures regarding securing firearms, searching prisoners, handcuffing prisoners behind their backs. In 1999, the City was found liable and the families of the Detectives awarded a $14-million judgment for negligence in the Officers’ deaths, but the City fought the decision and, in 2004, a Judge vacated the award.
On July 12, 1992, Liberty Park in Queens was renamed the Detective Keith L. Williams Park. The location at 172nd Street and Liberty Avenue in Jamaica, Queens was also named Det. Keith L. Williams Way. On July 27, 2021, an ESU K-9 was also named in honor of Det. Williams. His widow, Rita, also established a charitable fund in his name.