Devastated family demands answers after 17-year old daughter fatally shot by California police

Family members of a 17-year-old Hannah Williams who was shot and killed by a Fullerton police officer are calling for the state’s attorney general to open an independent investigation.

Hannah Williams, right, a queer, Black and Latina 17-year old, was killed by police officers who say she may have had a gun. (Photo courtesy of the Williams family)

A California teenager fatally shot by a police officer on a Southern California freeway has been identified and the family is demanding answers.

Hannah Williams, 17, was fatally shot by a Fullerton, Calif., police officer on Friday night on the 91 Freeway in Anaheim, and her family wants to know why the officer has yet to be interviewed by investigators, ABC News is reporting.

The facts associated with the case are spotty.

Police officials said Williams was a “suspect” and that they found a “possible handgun” at the shooting scene, but the Orange County, Calif., District Attorney’s Office said in a statement on Tuesday that what looked like a Beretta 92 FS handgun was actually a BB gun.

The incident unfolded as the officer involved was driving his K-9 dog to the veterinarian and spotted a car eastbound, speeding, according to ABC.

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At some point, the two vehicles came in contact with one another and the officer radioed dispatch to say he’d been involved in a shooting, according to the Anaheim Police Department. Williams was taken to a hospital, where she died.

The teen’s parents and extended family members met with reporters on Tuesday to say they want more action taken in the case, first starting with having the officer suspended without pay. They called on Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom to direct state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to begin an independent investigation, ABC reports.

“Losing Hannah is hard,” the teen’s grandmother, Lynette Campbell, read from a statement from Williams’ father, Benson Williams, who wept nearby. “The circumstances in which we lost her has made it that much harder.”

The grandmother continued, “As of today, we still do not have clear answers about what happened to Hannah. The information that we received from the police department has changed several times.”

Campbell described her granddaughter, whose mother is Latina and father is Black, as a “beloved daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, friend” who worked as a lifeguard and volunteered with her parents at health fairs.

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“As you can imagine, we are more than devastated, not only by what happened to Hannah but the resulting news reports and events that have transpired since July 5th,” she said. “She had her whole life ahead of her.”

Civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt represents the family in what appears to be another unjustified, brutal police shooting of a young person of color. He offers some insight into the 17-year old behind the viral hashtag, #HannahWilliams.

“Hannah was so proud to have just been hired as a lifeguard at Knoxberry Farm for the summer. He was so proud of her. She was the star of the family. They had only moved to Southern California 11 months ago, but Hannah had already started building a huge network of friends, supporters and colleagues,” said Merritt in a statement to theGrio.

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“Beyond being an elite swimmer, she was bilingual being fluent in Spanish. As a young, queer, woman of color, she was passionate about LGBTQ rights. Most importantly she was thriving. She was surrounded by a family that loved and supported her. She was excelling academically. She was gainfully employed and active as the captain of her soccer team. She was healthy, happy and loved. She was unarmed and non-violent when police shot and killed her. We are demanding that they release the body camera footage and meet immediately with the family and attorneys.”

TheGrio will continue to monitor this case as it unfolds.