LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police in Southern California released body camera footage Friday of an officer fatally shooting a 17-year-old girl they said brandished a realistic-looking fake gun.
Hannah Williams of Anaheim was shot after her SUV collided with the officer’s patrol car as he tried to stop her from speeding on State Route 91 in Anaheim on July 5, police said.
Police said the officer, who is from neighboring Fullerton, had been taking his police dog to the vet. In a radio call, the officer says that the SUV has struck his car on purpose.
Police said the SUV then made a U-turn and lurched to a stop.
The bodycam video shows the officer leaving his car with his gun in hand to confront Williams. A slowed-down version shows Williams — her face intentionally blurred out — holding something in a shooting position toward the officer as he comes around the corner of her SUV.
Moments later, she is shot and falls. No audio was provided for the first 30 seconds of the video so it is unclear how many times the officer pulled the trigger.
The officer backs up and is then heard yelling at the prone Williams to “get on the (expletive) ground” and calling for medical help.
The teenager is seen laying face-down. The officer approaches again and handcuffs Williams, who repeatedly begs “help me, please, help me.”
Later she says: “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”
The officer, with help from a second plainclothes officer, begins first aid for the teenager, who says she has been hit in the chest. She also appears to have been shot in one leg.
She died at a hospital.
Still images from the video also showed a gun lying on the ground near the teenager. It was later found to be a replica.
Police also released part of a 911 call to Anaheim police that Williams’ father, Benson Williams, made about 90 minutes after she was shot.
Unaware of the incident, the father says that his daughter, who has been taking antidepressants, took the family rental car without permission and had been missing for three hours.
The dispatcher asks whether he is afraid that she may hurt herself.
“I am,” he replies.
S. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, said the teenager had struggled with “mental health concerns” for more than a year but had been taking her medication and had been at a “high point” that day.
He said the family chose not to watch the video.
“They had no desire to watch the tragic last moments of their daughter, their sister or their loved one,” he said at a news conference after the video was made public.
He said the family wasn’t ready to draw a final conclusion about whether the officer acted properly.
“He came around the corner and saw a person in a shooting stance” and had to make a split-second decision, Merritt said. “We can’t exonerate him at this point but we certainly can’t condemn him.”
“We still have questions,” Merritt said. “This is not over for this family but they can sleep better tonight, knowing that they have some answers.”