Bodycam video shows California teen Hannah Williams pointing fake gun at cops before being fatally shot
After 17-year-old Hannah Williams was killed following a traffic stop on a California freeway that turned into a fatal police shooting earlier this month, the Fullerton Police released bodycam footage of the incident on Friday.
Williams was driving a rental black SUV on the 91 Freeway in Anaheim on July 5 when she "intentionally collided" with a police car.
"In an effort to be transparent with the community that we serve, the Fullerton Police Department is releasing its second Critical Incident Community Briefing, which will provide details to the community about the incident, as we know them today," Fullerton Police Department said after releasing the footage.
The statement also reminded people that the bodycam footage was meant for "initial review" and that the authorities' understanding of the event could potentially change after new evidence came to light in the case.
"While body-worn cameras are an excellent investigative tool, they do not always show what the officers may have seen, and vice versa, the officers don’t always see and experience what the body camera footage shows," the police statement said.
However, instead of the raw footage of the incident, an edited version was released by the police.
Additionally, it also included an in-studio narration, slow motion footage of the events as they unfolded, radio transmissions, and still images.
What it did not include was the clip of the victim's car colliding with Flynn's and half a minute of audio at the beginning of the recording.
The footage showed Police Corporal Scott Flynn attempting to conduct a traffic stop after 7 p.m. on July 5.
After the vehicle driven by the victim at the time came to a stop, Williams was seen getting out of the vehicle and pointing what looked like a Beretta 92 FS handgun at the officer.
The object found near the victim's body afterward was confirmed to be a replica of the firearm.
In the video, Fynn yells, "Shots fired! Shots fired!" and the teenager was seen falling to the ground.
Although the officer backed away from the victim's vehicle to take cover behind his own car, he continued to update his station about the events as they unfolded.
Immediately after witnessing Williams rolling on the street in pain, he called for medical assistance.
After being ordered to lie on her stomach, the teenager was handcuffed by Flynn as he evaluated the seriousness of her condition and began the process of administering first aid.
As a witness arrived at the scene, she informed him as well as the officer that she was hit in her chest and she was having difficulty breathing. At one point during the footage, a gunshot wound could be seen on her left leg.
The footage also included the 911 call made by the victim's father. In it, he reported to the emergency operator that his daughter had been missing for almost four hours and no one in the family knew why she took the car and where she went. In addition, he also said that Williams had been on antidepressants at the time of the incident.
When police spokesman Lt. Jon Radus was asked by CNN why the department had not released an unedited footage of the incident, he said: "It is our practice to release 'Briefings' to explain the BWC [body-worn cameras] videos and incident to provide context. Plus, there is editing that must occur in order to protect the identity of those in the video, such as the 17-year-old female. While family and media may identify her by name and picture, we do not, out of respect for her family, as well as requirements we adhere to in the State of California regarding minors."
Although the victim's family had publicly requested the police to release the footage of the incident, Williams' family lawyer said that his clients had chosen not watch the clip and it had only been viewed by the legal team.
"It was accurate but incomplete," attorney Lee Merritt said. "We don't have the 30 seconds of missing audio so we don't know whether the officer issued verbal commands. We don't see the crash, or what caused it."
Merritt added that the teenager had had no history with weapons. She also had no known issues with drugs or alcohol.