Disturbing Details Found In Darrent Williams' Autopsy Report

Guns have been a source of controversy since their invention. Pew Research may have found that people acquire them for various reasons — shooting sports, hunting — but too often, intentionally or unintentionally, a firearm contributes to the death of a human being.

Sometimes several bullets are fired, for whatever reason, resulting in the death of the intended target. There are times, though, when all it takes is one bullet that hits certain parts of the body that can spell near-instant death. That includes the carotid artery, which is where one of the bullets struck football player Darrent Williams as he was riding with friends in a limousine on New Year's Eve 2006. He was dead about a minute later, held by the grief-stricken Javon Walker, his teammate on the Denver Broncos.

The most disturbing thing about the whole thing is not found in the autopsy result, though. It's the fact that Williams wasn't the intended target of the shooting.

Darrent Williams was a rising star in the NFL at the time of his death

Before talking about details regarding his death, let's take a look at Darrent Williams' all-too-brief life, which began on September 27, 1982 in Fort Worth, Texas. He went to Oklahoma State, where he got five interceptions in three years of playing as a defensive back, per Sports Reference. He also played on special teams, handling punts and some kick returns. After his senior year, he declared for the NFL Draft.

The Denver Broncos liked his skill set that he displayed in college. He wasn't a flashy enough guy to warrant being picked in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, but they pounced on him in the second round, taking him with the 56th selection. Williams adjusted to the NFL quite well, netting six interceptions and five fumbles during his first two seasons, per Pro Football Reference. He was looking to build on that for his third season and become a true superstar. Then came that fateful moment when the bullet hit Williams and ended a promising life. 

Brandon Marshall was likely the intended target

The autopsy report, per Autopsy Files, is stark as what happened that night on New Year's Eve 2006. "Cause of death: Perforating gunshot wound of neck." It means that the bullet tore into Darrent Williams' neck and did major damage to an important artery. There was one small mercy in the report; the bullet brought rapid death. Williams barely suffered. He was the only one of the passengers in that limousine who died — one other got hit in the buttocks, and a ringing cell phone saved another passenger who got a lacerated scalp rather than a bullet in her head thanks to her answering the call (via Sports Illustrated). There was some speculation that the intended target was Brandon Marshall, who had been getting rowdy at the club that Williams and Javon Walker had been in.

Williams' death was just another statistic as far as gun deaths go. The year 2007 had just begun and there was already at least one person dead due to gunfire. There would be more that year who died from that cause, including Sean Taylor (per ESPN), another football player that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There would be things set in motion, though, to ensure that his life would not have been cut short in vain. 

The Denver community still remembers Darrent Williams

The reaction to the Darrent Williams shooting was swift. The Denver fan community fell into a state of mourning after hearing about what happened to a player who was fast a favorite of theirs. Justice was also quick. Police arrested the shooter, a gang member named  Willie Clark, who was convicted and sentenced to life, per the NFL. The Denver Broncos organization still keeps Williams' memory alive, acknowledging his death each year. They also annually give a player the Darrent Williams Good Guy award (via Denver Broncos).

The community also remembers Williams. There is a Darrent Williams Memorial Teen Center at the Denver Broncos Boys and Girls Club. The Darrent Williams Foundation was also opened in Mansfield, Texas, per Nonprofit Facts. His spirit still lives on at these places. 

It is not just the autopsy results that are tragic. Had he not been shot, Williams would likely have been at the tail end of a lengthy career by the time 2021 came to an end. His interception numbers can only be left to the imagination. That is the saddest part of these types of stories — wondering about what could have been.