Family outraged at fire captain’s resignation letter

Polk County

Amber Addison didn’t think she could be any more hurt or upset. Then, she read Captain James Williams’ resignation letter.  

“And then he’s going to bring up depression and PTSD?” asked Addison. “What do you think we’re suffering from?”

Addison is Lorretta Pickard’s niece.

Pickard died in a house fire in Polk County in November. Captain Williams was the supervisor on the scene and, according to investigators, shot video of the fire and shared it on Snapchat.  

Pickard was on the phone with a 911 operator pleading for her life and never made it out of the home.

Captain Williams was the subject of multiple investigations and this week, he turned in his letter of resignation.  

In it, he blamed the media for twisting the facts.  

Addison can’t believe that.  

“He blames the media for goodness sakes. Are you kidding me?”  Addison asked.  

“Did the media Snapchat? Or was it you captain?”

Addison now believes the State Attorney’s office should take a look at this case and look into the possibility of criminal charges.  

“There needs to be criminal charges on everyone involved. Everyone,” said Addison.

“Not just Williams.”

Bryant Camareno is an attorney and legal expert not affiliated with this case. He believes a criminal case could be hard for prosecutors to pursue.  

“He was taking videos. So, not only do they have to prove that he knew somebody was inside the house and two, by taking the video, that created this unneccesary risk, that wanton disregard for human life,” said Camareno.  

“So, I think in the final analysis it’s going to be very difficult to pursue criminal charges against him.”

The county hired an outside entity to conduct an independent investigation into what happened at the fire scene and how the situation was handled in the days and months following. County leaders hope to have that report in hand in the next month or two. 

Addison plans to contact prosecutors next week to see if they are investigating or plan to investigate.

She says if a criminal prosecution isn’t possible, a civil suit is not out of the question.  

“We’re going to fix this,”  said Addison. “And if suing is going to fix it, then that is what we’re going to do.”

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