Pennsylvania: Landlord Murders Tenant; Family and Community Protest State’s Concealment, Collusion

Photo: Leonard Williams Jr., courtesy of Williams’ family

By Jason Bartles

On September 1, an unarmed Black man, Leonard Williams Jr., was shot and killed by his landlord, Quentin “Lewis” Trisler, in the town of Washington, Pennsylvania. Since then, the facts around the crime have been concealed by the State in order to justify Williams’ murder, with Washington County district attorney (DA) Justin Walsh refusing to prosecute Trisler. Williams’ family and community members have been fighting for justice for Williams, holding a protest on Monday to denounce Trisler and the authorities who protect him.

On the day that Trisler murdered Williams, he posted notices to “Pay or Vacate” on Williams’ and several other tenants’ doors. According to multiple witnesses, Williams approached Trisler and verbally confronted him regarding the notice. Williams’s family told Tribune that he was not behind on his rent when given notice.

While arguing with Williams, Trisler entered his truck and produced a handgun. Williams took several steps back with his hands raised saying, “Please don’t shoot me in front of my daughter.”

Ignoring Williams’ pleas, Trisler fired three shots, killing Williams as his ten-year-old daughter watched. Williams’ final words were, “Don’t cry baby. I’ll be alright.” He was unarmed throughout the entire incident.

Trisler himself was taken to Washington Hospital by police after complaining of dizziness and shortness of breath, according to a search warrant. Throughout the investigation, police told Williams’ family they had found no additional witnesses, other than Williams’ daughter and two neighbors.

Trisler is the owner of Strategic Developments LLC, a property development firm that doesn’t solicit business from the public. It is likely he desires to evict his tenants, many of whom rely on Section 8 vouchers, by hook or by crook, to further develop his properties in order to sell them or rent to wealthier tenants.

Two weeks after the shooting, with no warning to the family, Walsh held a press conference calling the killing a “justifiable homicide” and announcing he was refusing to prosecute the case. He claimed the police located four anonymous witnesses who say Williams assaulted Trisler in his truck, who then supposedly ‘fired in self-defense.’

One witness described the interaction prior to the shooting as “bickering, that’s all.” Another witness who arrived after the shooting told Tribune that Williams’ body was ten feet from the truck, indicating he had retreated before he was shot. This coincides with his daughter’s testimony that Williams stepped back with his hands in the air before Trisler shot him.

The DA has refused to release police records, identify his witnesses, or even admit that Trisler is the killer, despite protests from the family. Monopoly media has been complicit in this cover-up, with most papers failing to identify Trisler or point out the holes in the DA’s account of events.

Family, friends, and members of the community gathered in front of the Washington County Courthouse on September 20 to demand that Walsh release witness statements and police reports and admit that Quentin Trisler is the killer. One man stated, “They’re in cahoots together. It’s all corrupt. I lived here 32 years. Racist-ass Washington County!”

During the protest for Williams, drivers passing by honked while raising their fists. As the protest neared its end, activists walked to the Washington County Correctional Facility and continued agitating for Williams as inmates banged on their cell windows in support.

Williams’ father, Leonard Sr., told Tribune, “I want justice for my son. If he had done this, he’d be in jail right now.”

Williams’ family has vowed to continue protesting until their demands have been met, and have set up a Gofundme to secure legal representation for their struggle.

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