Dead Man Walking: Inside The 1966 Murder Of Bobby Williams
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – He was only 17 on August 5, 1966, but 48-years later, the date is still seared into Timothy Drayton’s memory as if it was yesterday.
That was the day his friend, Bobby Williams, was shot and killed by Dade County Sheriff’s deputies, in what Drayton now claims was a murder set up, sanctioned and committed by officers of the law and even a local judge.
“Every day of my life I’ve suffered since this happened. Because authorities were the ones that were doing this and plotted this whole thing,” claimed Drayton.
Still scared and scarred by what he said police put him through in 1966, Drayton gave what he claimed was his first statement about the events of August 5, 1966 to attorney and former Surfside Mayor, Paul Novack last year.
Novack and a group of Surfside friends began a project two years ago to find out what happened to Miami Beach Senior High School student Danny Goldman. Goldman, who was kidnapped on his 18th birthday in March of 1966, has never been seen since.
In the course of their investigation into the Danny Goldman case, the Surfside group said they uncovered more than 20-murders, many closed while some remain open and cold, that they link to organized teams of criminals working along with corrupt and possibly murderous law enforcement officers in the 60’s and 70’s. The links not only reveal the actual context of the time, according to Novack, but also a possible answer as to what happened to Goldman.
On the anniversary of Bobby Williams’ death, CBSMiami.com is closely examining what happened in the early morning hours of August 5th, 1966 at the Silver Palms Inn in Goulds.
Was it part of a bigger picture which involved alleged police corruption, police involved murders, shakedowns, burglary rackets and abuse which some say was rampant in the sheriff’s office in the 1960’s? Or was Williams’ death a justifiable shooting as ruled by authorities?
Timothy Drayton, who today wears the title of Reverend, is one of only a few people still living who was there that night.
It began, said Drayton, with police harassment and intimidation. A Sgt. Robert Brown, assigned to Station #4 in South Dade County, accused Drayton and some of his friends of committing a string of burglaries in the area.
“You guys are doing all the robbing and breaking into people’s houses,” Drayton recalled Brown telling him.
“I said ‘no sir’,” Drayton insisted.
At which point, Drayton claimed Brown told him, “You’re lying to me boy. We got too many break-ins around here and somebody’s doing it.”
“I say ‘but it’s not us’,” Drayton recalled telling Brown. “We are not doing these things. We don’t rob nobody. We just ride around.”
On numerous occasions, Drayton claimed that Brown and two other deputies would rough him up in an attempt to get Drayton to agree to burglarizing a bar in Goulds.
“They would take me out on a dark street somewhere and they would beat the hell out of me,” said Drayton. “Now I never saw the real tall one and the short one’s face because they would always put a hood on their head when they met. But I can tell you they was cops. They was always in a cop’s car.”
Drayton admitted he finally agreed to the deputy’s demands after the threats escalated.
“I’m scared to tell momma about it cause they done tell me they gonna kill my whole family if I tell anybody. I don’t know what to do,” recalled Drayton “He just terrified my family and then he terrified me and to this very day I’m scared of the police.”
According to Drayton, Sgt. Brown took him to the Silver Palms Inn one day and instructed him on how he was to enter the bar.
“He went there and picked the jalousie (window) on the door. He said ‘See this is open’. All you gotta do is open this. I’m gonna tear this screen out of there and you just stick your hand in there and open the door and go on in the place. Nobody will be in there. It will be after hours,” Drayton said Brown told him.
To make sure Drayton knew the deputies meant business, Drayton said Brown took him to see a judge at the courthouse in Homestead.
“I’m shaking like a leaf on a tree,” Drayton recalled.
He identified the man as Judge Adair. CBSMiami.com has confirmed that Judge Sylvester P. Adair was a judge and Justice of the Peace in Homestead. He also is listed as the presiding judge at the August 10th inquest that was held into Williams’s death. Adair is deceased.
Drayton explained what happened next.
“The judge said ‘Did you agree to do what they asked you to do?’ I say ‘yes sir’. And he said, ‘Well I can promise you that you won’t go to jail.’ I mean I got a judge saying to do something wrong with the police saying go and do this and the judge is backing them up,” said Drayton.
Sometime after 1 a.m. on August 5th, Drayton drove his car to the Silver Palms Inn. With him were two juveniles and 18-year old Bobby Williams. Those were the individuals that Drayton claimed the cops ordered him to bring to the burglary that night.
“Bobby Williams was skeptical. He said ‘Man, I don’t want to do this’,” Drayton recalled.
Drayton described Williams as a nice kid with a bad back which caused him to move slowly. He also never saw him with a weapon.
“Nobody in the car had a weapon,” said Drayton.
According to Drayton, Brown had assured him no one would be inside. But that was not the case. Drayton poked his hand through the missing jalousie slot and found the screen torn as he said he’d been told. He then opened the side door to the Inn.
“I want you to know I’m not proud of this. I’m not proud of what happened because it’s a tragedy. I was just scared of these policemen and I had to do what they told me,” insisted Drayton. “They was threatening my whole family.”
What follows is what Drayton said happened next.
“Just as I started to go in, Bobby walked past me and went on in. Then Skip came and walked in. I hadn’t walked all the way into the place. Then I heard something like a gun cock and I ran out of the place automatically because I knew they was in there, but I didn’t think they was going to be doing no shooting. By the time I got back out that door and back to the road, it sounded like a war had started. I heard so many, it didn’t sound like pistols, it sounded like shotguns going off. They meant to kill all of us. They was just shooting, I mean back-to-back shooting.”
In fact, police reports indicated that 20 rounds of “00” buckshot and several .38 bullets were fired.
“I walked these guys into a death trap,” lamented Drayton nearly 50 years later.
According to a press release put out later the same day Major Manson Hill, head of the Detective Bureau, reported that, “The officers were fired upon after three of the subjects entered the building and were told to halt.”
Drayton, however, said there was no yelling, just shooting.
Also, according to the medical examiner’s findings Williams, who was killed by the cops inside the bar, had no gunshot residue on his hands even though a pistol was found in his hand.
“We didn’t have a knife or a toe nail clipper or nothing. We didn’t have no weapons at all,” Drayton insisted.
The two juveniles were also shot but survived their injuries. One of them managed to run from the bar to Drayton’s car.
“I mean this guy had blood just gushing out of his arm. I said ‘Lord have mercy’,” recounted Drayton.
Shortly after Drayton drove off with his injured cohort in crime, they were picked up by police and the injured teen was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Drayton was handcuffed and taken to Station #4 in Perrine and thrown in a holding cell.
“I could hear Brown and his buddies in there ‘We got one! Man we should of got them all. We got one man that’s great!’,” Drayton told Novack in his videotaped confession. “I died that night in the cell.”
Drayton was finally driven to the Dade County Jail. He says to this day, he doesn’t even know what charges were filed against him.
But in the Dade County Sheriff’s press release issued August 5, 1966, it said that Drayton was charged with intent to commit murder and breaking and entering.
“A couple of days after that,” Drayton said, “Brown showed up and took me out of there to take me to the judge. And when he took me in front of the judge, the judge said ’Well done!’ I mean I couldn’t imagine why a judge would say something like that. And after that I was released. Nobody came to me to take a statement or anything. So they had it fixed. The police dreamed it up and the police made it happen.”
Drayton said he knew he couldn’t go back to his community. He would be considered a snitch. He went to live with relatives in Ft. Lauderdale and worked low wage, menial jobs much of his life. He claimed he has never seen the deputies who set him up since the day he was released.
Brown died in 2004. The other deputies who were there that night could not be located, according to Miami-Dade police. A spokesman for the department told CBSMiami.com that the case remains closed.
Shortly before Rev. Drayton sat down in Paul Novack’s office to record his recollection of the events on August 5, 1966, he told his family his story, for the very first time.
“I wanted somebody to talk to. But who could I talk to when I got a crooked judge and cooked cops,” said Drayton.
Today he is a resident in a community of the formerly homeless.
“I’m willing to tell the story because this is something that haunted me over the years and it’s plagued my life,” said Drayton. “Since that day I’ve been a dead man walking.”