The Fullerton Police Department released body-camera footage this afternoon of a controversial, July 5 officer-involved shooting on the 91 freeway in Anaheim that claimed the life of Hannah Williams. The 17-year-old Anaheim girl’s death quickly made national and international headlines, with her parents immediately pushing for answers. Fullerton police announced that they would release a Critical Incident Community Briefing on social media about the shooting, but didn’t specify a date or time.
With footage made public, the department also released body-camera stills that appear to show Williams pointing what turned out to be a replica gun at Fullerton police Corporal Scott Flynn shortly before he gunned her down.
The incident began around 7 p.m. as Flynn was driving his K-9 eastbound on the 91 freeway to see a veterinarian. He observed Williams allegedly speeding on the freeway and attempted to pull her over. The officer radioed that the teen’s black Dodge Durango collided with him on purpose.
Fullerton police further claim that Williams made an abrupt U-turn in the direction of oncoming traffic. The body-camera footage begins after that.
By that time, Williams is already on the freeway pavement, bleeding from gunshot wounds. The officer approaches and orders her to roll over onto her stomach and put her hands behind her back. She complied with both commands.
A man Flynn identified as being with a Los Angeles Police Department unit stopped to assist at the scene. He readily identified the gun on the ground as a replica before tending to Williams, who writhed in pain. “Please, help me!” Williams said. “I can’t breathe.” Gunshot wounds to the chest and leg were identified when Flynn began giving medical aid. Paramedics transported Williams to a nearby hospital, where she died.
With the critical moment happening so rapidly, Fullerton police slowed the body-camera footage down to show Williams standing in front of Flynn at a short distance while pointing the replica gun with both hands. They also released stills from the video of that moment.
“We can’t exonerate him at this point, but we certainly can’t condemn him,” said S. Lee Merritt, an attorney representing the Williams family, of the officer. He spoke to reporters outside the OCDA office in Santa Ana. Fullerton Police Chief Bob Dunn and Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer met with the family today and offered them the chance to review the footage before it was released to the public.
Earlier this week, the DA’s office (OCDA) released a photo of the replica gun recovered at the scene; it was designed to resemble a Beretta 92 FS pistol.
At the end of the 15-minute Critical Incident Community Briefing, the department also released audio from a 9-1-1 call that Williams’ father made to Anaheim police an hour and a half after the shooting occurred. He alerted a dispatcher that his daughter took off with the family’s rental car and had been missing for almost four hours. The father also noted that she took antidepressants.
“Are you afraid that she’s going to hurt herself?” the dispatcher asked.
“I am,” he replied.
By releasing video and audio evidence in a week’s time, the department noted it exceeded the requirements of the new Assembly Bill 748, which compels law-enforcement agencies in the state to release such material within 45 days of a critical incident.
Fullerton police don’t render a judgment on whether Flynn acted legally or within policy by doing so. The OCDA continues its probe into whether the police shooting was justified under the law.
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!