During a hearing to determine whether racial bias has sullied the case against former NBA forward Jayson Williams, the lead detective investigating the fatal shooting of a limo driver by the ex-ball player admitted Thursday that he once referred to the suspect as a “street ni**er,” The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports.
"I'm deeply embarrassed and I regret saying it," said former Capt. William Hunt, the highest-ranking investigator in the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office in 2002, testifying in Superior Court in Somerville, N.J.
Williams, who was convicted in 2004 of trying to cover up the death of his driver, Costas “Gus” Christofi,” is scheduled to be retried in January on a reckless manslaughter charge. The 41-year-old former New Jersey Net was acquitted of the more serious aggravated manslaughter charge, but he jury deadlocked on the lesser charge of reckless manslaughter.
Williams is seeking to have both the reckless manslaughter and previous convictions dismissed, arguing that the prosecutor’s office was tainted by racial bias, the Star-Ledger reports. Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman ruled in August that the retrial could move forward but has delayed his decision on the four lesser convictions as he ponders the impact of the racial slur. Thursday’s hearing was to determine whether the defense can use the racial comment to argue that the investigation by the prosecutor’s office mired in racism.
Hunt said he was watching Williams handle a firearm in a video clip of “MTV Cribs” when he referred to the suspect as a “street ni**er.” At the time, Hunt was surrounded by his colleagues and reviewing evidence in the prosecutor’s office in April or May 2002, according to the Star-Ledger. "I realized I shouldn't have said that and it was wrong," he said.