Family of woman killed in Bayview police shooting sues city

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN)—The family of a woman shot and killed by police officers in May in San Francisco’s Bayview District has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the police sergeant who fired the fatal shot.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday on behalf of Carol Walker, alleges that police violated the constitutional rights of Jessica Williams, 29, when they shot her on May 19 as she allegedly attempted to flee in a stolen vehicle.

The lawsuit names Sgt. Justin Erb, who police have identified as the officer who shot Williams, 29, and alleges he used excessive force.

Williams was shot around 9:45 a.m. after police attempted to pull her over on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle on Elmira Street.

After the shooting, police said that Williams had allegedly tried to drive away when the officers tried to stop her, but crashed into a parked truck less than 100 feet away.

Police have not said why Erb opened fire.

No weapon was found in the vehicle after the shooting, according to police.

Williams’ shooting led to the resignation of former Police Chief Greg Suhr later that same day, and the appointment of interim Police Chief Toney Chaplin.

Suhr had been the subject of protests and calls for his firing since the December 2015 shooting of Mario Woods, which also occurred in the Bayview, and the April shooting of Luis Gongora in the Mission District.

Woods and Gongora were both allegedly armed with knives at the time they were shot, but many community members have argued police should have handled the
incidents without resorting to gunfire.

The practice of shooting at moving cars would be prohibited under a new use of force policy approved by the police commission in June.

However, that policy is still the subject of ongoing negotiations with the police union, which opposes the prohibition on shooting at vehicles as well as a proposed ban on the carotid hold, used for subduing suspects.

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