Anaheim, CA – A 17-year-old girl armed with a replica Beretta 92 FS handgun was fatally shot by a Fullerton police officer after a collision with the patrol car Friday night.
The incident began at approximately 7 p.m., when a uniformed, on-duty Fullerton Police Department (FPD) officer spotted a vehicle traveling “at a high rate of speed” on the eastbound 91 Freeway, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release on Tuesday.
The officer was taking his K9 partner to a veterinarian for a medical procedure at the time.
The teen’s vehicle and the officer’s patrol SUV “made physical contact” at some point during the encounter, but police and prosecutors have released few other details about what led up to the altercation.
The suspect’s family members identified her as 17-year-old Hannah Linn Williams, according to The Orange County Register.
A witness said she saw Williams standing outside her vehicle on the freeway with her arms raised and a gun in her hand.
The witness said that Williams was walking towards the officer at the time.
Another witness said that the object Williams was holding was a cell phone, not a gun.
“An officer-involved shooting occurred and a replica Beretta 92 FS handgun was recovered at the scene next to the female,” the district attorney’s office said in the press release. “The gun was later identified as a replica handgun designed to look like a real Beretta 92 FS.”
A witness reported having heard the crash, followed by two gunshots, KTLA reported.
Williams was transported to a local hospital, where she succumbed to her gunshot wounds.
The district attorney’s office is handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting, The Orange County Register reported.
Williams’ family’s spokesperson, Reverend Jarrett Maupin, said that police and prosecutors are lying about the teen being in possession of a weapon, and that even if she was armed, the officer shouldn’t have opened fire because the gun was only a replica.
“We maintain that she was unarmed,” Maupin said during a press conference on Tuesday, according to the Orange County Register.
“A fake gun is a fake gun,” he declared.
Maupin alleged that the replica firearm was not found next to the teen’s body, and that police didn’t find the weapon until they searched the inside of the rental vehicle Williams was driving.
Family friend Magda Rojas said that there was no way Williams was armed with a “real gun” when she was shot, KTLA reported.
“Maybe a Mickey Mouse gun or something, but not a real gun,” Rojas said. “We don’t have no clue. We don’t have real answers.”
It is against the law to possess a replica handgun in the state of California, KCBS reported.
Her family said that the officer-involved shooting “appears to be another unjustified shooting of a young person of color.”
Williams’ mother is Latina and her father is black, according to The Orange County Register.
Williams’ father, Benson Williams, has called on Rev. Al Sharpton to become involved in his daughter’s case, Heavy reported.
“We want Rev. Sharpton to shine a light on what happened here in Anaheim. We want to know why police felt the need to shoot and kill a 17-year-old unarmed teen girl,” he said in a statement. “We want the public to know, right away, how many times our daughter was shot and whether or not she was shot in the back.”
Williams’ sister, Nyla, has also reached out to California Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Joe Biden on Twitter.
“We need your help. My 17 yr sister was just shot and killed by the Fullerton police we have no answer we have been told several different things this happened Friday evening on the 91 here in Anaheim please please,” Nyla’s tweets read.
Williams’ godmother, activist Lynnette Campbell, said that the high school senior was hard-working and honest, The Orange County Register reported.
“As of today, we still do not have clear answers about what happened to Hannah,” Campbell said. “The information that we have received from the police department has changed several times.”
A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office said that dashcam and bodycam footage of the altercation will not be immediately released, as video is normally released after their investigation is complete.
The family has authorized an independent autopsy, and has also asked California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office to have the state attorney general’s office investigate the officer-involved shooting.
“We cannot trust local police to investigate themselves,” Maupin told reporters.
The family has also demanded that the officer involved in the altercation be suspended without pay.
While the district attorney’s office investigates the officer’s potential criminal culpability, the Anaheim Police Department will determine whether or not Williams had committed a crime, KMBZ reported.
FPD will conduct an administrative investigation to determine whether the officer acted in accordance with department policy.