Orange County prosecutors Tuesday released a report concluding that Fullerton police did not violate the law when a 17-year-old Anaheim girl was fatally shot in a conflict with an officer last year.
Cpl. Scott Flynn was cleared of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Hannah Williams on July 5, 2019. A letter dated June 22 to Fullerton police was released on Tuesday by the District Attorney’s Office.
Flynn was taking his injured K-9 dog to a veterinary clinic in Yorba Linda at about 7 p.m. when he saw a Dodge SUV fly past him in the carpool lane at speeds up to 120 mph, according to the report from Deputy District Attorney Avery Harrison.
Flynn chased after the rented SUV, which at some point slowed abruptly and then made a sudden right turn, causing a collision, Harrison said.
Flynn felt he was being attacked, and both vehicles came to a stop on the Riverside (91) Freeway, Harrison said. The policeman called for backup as he got out of his car and attempted to get Williams to surrender.
As Flynn advanced on the SUV, “he immediately came upon (Williams) who was walking toward him with her arms raised, holding what appeared to be a black semiautomatic firearm, in a shooting position with the barrel raised and pointed directly at Officer Flynn,” Harrison wrote. “Continuing to yell commands at (Williams), Officer Flynn indicated that he saw anger on her face and was in fear for his life. Officer Flynn thought he was being ambushed and realized (Williams) already had him in her sights at a close distance of approximately 6-7 feet.”
Flynn opened fire, striking Williams twice, Harrison said.
Flynn, and a retired Los Angeles Police Department officer who witnessed what was happening, attempted to give aid to Williams, Harrison said. Another Fullerton officer who arrived on scene shortly after also attempted to revive her.
As Williams was taken to an area hospital, she was “combative,” Harrison said. Williams was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Williams’ father called later that evening to report her missing and said she had attempted suicide in the past and was taking medication for depression, Harrison said. Her stepmother told police that she left a note behind saying she “did not feel welcome in the home and that her dad was giving her strange looks,” Harrison wrote.
Williams had tried to run away several times before and had attempted to hurt herself, Harrison wrote.
Police recovered a BB gun at the scene, Harrison said.
“When Officer Flynn fired his weapon, he justly and reasonably believed (Williams) was going to kill him,” Harrison said.
“Although the incident is deeply saddening, resulting in the death of a minor with mental illness, Officer Flynn did not commit a crime,” Harrison said. “To the contrary, he carried out his duties as a peace officer in a reasonable and justifiable manner.”
A lawsuit was filed last year, but has been dismissed, according to court records.
Efforts to reach Lee Merritt, the attorney who represented Williams’ family last year, were not immediately successful.