Hannah Williams’ father still has no idea why a police officer shot and killed his 17-year-old daughter.
“We just need to know what happened that night because they haven’t told us anything, nothing. Everything I’ve learned is from media or on Twitter, like everything. No one come to talk to us,” Hannah’s sister, Nyla, 19, told reporters Thursday.
It’s been almost a week since the California teen encountered a Fullerton police officer while driving in the nearby city of Anaheim.
At some point, Hannah’s car and the officer’s police SUV “made physical contact,” the Orange County District Attorney’s office said.
“An officer-involved shooting occurred and a replica Beretta 92 FS handgun was recovered at the scene next to” the teen, the prosecutor’s office said. “The gun was later identified as a replica handgun designed to look like a real Beretta 92 FS.”
Hannah was taken to a hospital, where she later died.
That was Friday. Authorities have not provided any more details about what prompted the shooting.
The replica gun found near Hannah did not have a bright orange tip, as required by federal law, that would indicate it was fake gun.
“We believe that to be a red herring,” attorney Lee Merritt said of the reports of the fake gun. “More importantly, this is not a case where we have to guess at what happened.”
The attorney demanded that the officer’s body camera footage be released, if not to the public then at least to the family. Although state law gives police 45 days to release the video, the Fullerton Police Department said it would release the footage and other information “in coming days.”
The family said through Merritt that Hannah had no history with weapons, nor did she have any known issues with drugs or alcohol. The teen was an inexperienced driver, he said, and may never have been on the freeway before.
It started with a trip to the veterinarian
The Fullerton officer, who was not publicly identified, was driving in Anaheim to take his police dog to the veterinarian, the district attorney’s office said.
“He observed a 17-year-old female driver, who was also eastbound on the 91 Freeway at a high rate of speed, near Glassell Avenue,” the DA’s office said.
“At some point, the two vehicles made physical contact. An officer-involved shooting occurred and a replica Beretta 92 FS handgun was recovered at the scene next to the female.”
The family believes Hannah was shot three times, Merritt said, but they can’t be sure. He said he expected her body to be turned over to the family Thursday.
Anaheim police, along with the county district attorney’s office, are investigating the shooting because it happened within Anaheim city limits.
Fullerton police are investigating whether its officer may have violated department policy. The officer is on paid administrative leave while authorities investigate.
It’s unclear when authorities will tell the public what prompted the shooting.
“The circumstances that led to the shooting are under investigation and are not immediately available,” Anaheim police said Saturday.
The family wants the governor to get involved
Nyla Williams, who serves in the military and was stationed in New Mexico at the time of the shooting, said her sister worked as a lifeguard because she loved helping people.
“My sister, Hannah, she was very kind, very supportive. She was silly, you name it. She could make you smile no matter what you were feeling that day,” she said.
Hannah, who had just finished her junior year of high school, was in “a particularly joyous mood” before the shooting, Merritt said. She had her family in town from Houston and had made them pancakes that morning.
Later, she was pulling pranks on her relatives, dropping Mentos candies in their sodas to make them explode, the lawyer said. The family was planning a trip to Hollywood that evening to take in the tourist attractions, Merritt said.
“We still do not have clear answers about what happened,” her family said in a statement. “Hannah was a beloved daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, friend. She had her whole life ahead of her.”