Hannah Williams shooting: Family demands answers after 17-year-old girl fatally shot by officer on freeway
Prosecutors say investigators found a replica handgun designed to resemble a Beretta pistol next to 17-year-old Hannah Williams after she was fatally shot by a Fullerton officer on a Southern California freeway Friday. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said the uniformed officer was driving his marked police SUV on the 91 freeway in Anaheim around 7 p.m., on his way to take his K-9 for a medical procedure, when he encountered a female driving at a high rate of speed.
CBS Los Angeles reports the shooting happened after the two vehicles came into contact. The teen was transported to a hospital, where she later died, prosecutors say.
The family has identified the victim as Anaheim resident Hannah Linn Williams. Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Williams’ family said they have received no information about the circumstances of the shooting, which took place about 26 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Williams’ godmother Lynette Campbell, reading a statement, said the family is “more than devastated” over her death. She said Williams worked as a lifeguard, volunteered at community health fairs and was committed to public service.
“Losing Hannah is hard — the circumstances in which we lost her have made it that much harder,” Campbell said. “As of today, we do not have clear answers about what happened to Hannah.”
A spokesperson for the Orange County District Attorney’s office said it is investigating the Fullerton officer’s actions and the circumstances of the shooting are part of the investigation. Tuesday, the office released a photo of the replica gun recovered at the scene, pictured next to a Beretta 92 FS handgun. The replica gun appeared identical to the Beretta.
Campbell said the information family has received from police has changed several times and Williams’ uncle said police have not returned the family’s calls. The family, along with civil rights leaders, called on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to ask the state attorney general to conduct a civil rights investigation. Rev. Jarrett Maupin of the National Action Network said his group and the NAACP are among several advocating for justice for Williams, whose mother he said is Hispanic and whose father is African American.
Maupin, who is acting as a spokesperson for the family, said in a statement the family has “doubts” about whether the officer followed policy. He called for the officer to be suspended without pay during the investigation.
The Fullerton Police Department is conducting a separate internal investigation into whether their officer violated policy. A spokesperson for the Fullerton Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from CBS News and a question about the officer’s status with the department.
In addition, the Anaheim Police Department is conducting a third investigation into any possible criminal actions of the part of Williams, Sgt. Daron Wyatt, an Anaheim police spokesman, told CBS News in an email.
Wyatt said there would be no prosecution since Williams is deceased, but he couldn’t speak to any crimes she may have been suspected of committing because they are “part and parcel” to the officer-involved shooting review being conducted by the district attorney’s office.
Wyatt said the family has been referred to the district attorney’s office for information since that office is investigating the officer’s actions. He said members of Anaheim’s homicide detail and members of the district attorney’s investigative team met in person with the family early Saturday morning.
Campbell, Williams’ godmother, said the family did receive a “knock at the door” from authorities, but said they were only told there was an incident and a fatality.
Speaking with the family Tuesday, Maupin said the family doesn’t know who the replica gun belonged to. He said Williams was driving a rental car and had several siblings, but it wasn’t clear whether he was implying they were riding in the car with her.
“We maintain she was unarmed,” Maupin said. “A fake gun is a fake gun.”
Video from the scene immediately after the shooting shows detectives examining a U-Haul truck on the side of a road, reports CBS Los Angeles.
Maupin said the family also hasn’t been told how many times Williams was shot or where on her body she was struck by bullets. He said the family expected to receive the remains Tuesday and would conduct an independent forensic review.