A Fullerton police officer who fatally shot a 17-year-old girl on an Anaheim freeway was wearing a body camera, which captured the shooting, and the footage will be released in the next few days, police said Thursday.
In the agency’s first extensive response to Friday’s shooting on the Riverside (91) Freeway that killed Hannah Williams, Fullerton police said that while state law gives the agency 45 days to release body camera footage, the department in this case will make the footage public within a week of the shooting.
Williams’ family has raised questions about the propriety of the shooting, insisting the teen was unarmed at the time. According to the District Attorney’s Office, a replica handgun designed to look like a Beretta 92FS handgun was recovered at the scene of the shooting. A representative of Williams’ family said earlier this week that relatives have no idea where that fake weapon came from.
In its Thursday statement — released less than an hour before Williams’ family planned another news conference — Fullerton police said Williams “was in possession of a replica handgun” when the shooting occurred.
“The officer involved in this particular OIS (officer-involved shooting) was wearing his (body-worn camera), which captured the OIS as it occurred,” police said.
The shooting occurred about 7 p.m. Friday on the Riverside (91) Freeway east of Kraemer Boulevard.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, which is taking part in the investigation, the Fullerton police officer was driving east on the freeway on the way to a veterinarian to have his canine partner treated. The officer saw the teen driver, who was also eastbound, speeding near Glassell Avenue and at some point “the two vehicles made physical contact.” The shooting occurred after the vehicles came to a stop, prosecutors said.
Renay Arnold, who said she witnessed the shooting, told NBC4 she saw Williams standing on the freeway outside of her vehicle and approaching the officer despite multiple commands by the officer that she stop.
“She looked angry and she was walking towards him, the officer,” Arnold said. ” … She raised both arms with a 9mm gun and he had to shoot her. He shot her. Three times. Bang bang bang.”
Williams’ family this week called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to order Attorney General Xavier Becerra to conduct a civil-rights investigation into the shooting.
“As of today we still do not have clear answers about what happened to Hannah. The information we have received from the police department has changed several times,” according to the family. The family said Williams was “beloved” by her family and “had her whole life ahead of her.”
The Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a family spokesman, said Williams, who worked as a lifeguard at Knott’s Berry Farm, spent Friday with her family at their home in Anaheim before leaving that evening in a rental car. It was unclear where she was heading.
Maupin said the accident involving the Fullerton police squad car “was very minor.”
Fullerton Mayor Jesus Silva issued a statement Thursday saying it will take time for information to be gathered by investigators but that it will eventually be released to the public, and that video evidence could be released in the next several days.
“Incidents like this are tragic for all involved. As a father, I empathize greatly with the sorrow and pain that the Williams family is experiencing,” Silva said. “I want everyone to know that releasing this information is very important to us, and to our continued commitment to accountability and transparency to the community we serve.”
Williams moved to the area less than a year ago with her family from Phoenix.
According to her family, Williams considered community service an “integral part” of her life, “as exemplified by her work as a lifeguard, her commitment to save lives.” The teen also “loved volunteering at community healthcare with her parents.”
“The public wants to know what happened and whether or not the officers involved followed all policies and procedures. We have doubts,” according to the family’s statement.
The family also announced plans to “have an independent autopsy conducted, fearing police will delay in releasing official autopsy results and continue to withhold information about the nature of the shooting from the public.”
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: