San Francisco Police Sued for Shooting Woman | Courthouse News Service
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San Francisco Police Sued for Shooting Woman

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The family of a 29-year-old woman who was shot and killed by San Francisco police while driving a stolen vehicle has sued the city for wrongful death.

Jessica Williams was unarmed and driving a stolen Honda on May 19 when San Francisco Police Sgt. Justin Erb unloaded an unknown number of rounds, one of which hit Williams in the chest and killed her, according to an autopsy report.

While fleeing police, Williams crashed into a parked truck and became wedged between the truck and a fence, according to initial reports that came out after the shooting.

However, the city attorney's office says the shooting was justified because Williams was accelerating the stolen vehicle toward a police officer.

"While attempting to get away, Ms. Williams accelerated the stolen car toward one of the officers, placing him in immediate peril and justifying his use of lethal force," San Francisco city attorney's office spokesperson John Coté said in a statement.

Coté also noted that the medical examiner's report found "a significant amount of meth" in Williams' system, which he said might explain her "erratic conduct."

On the same day the shooting occurred, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr stepped down from his post. Suhr had faced months of mounting criticism and calls for his resignation after the police shooting death of Mario Woods in December 2015.

The department has also come under fire twice — most recently in April — for racist text messages exchanged by police officers.

The Williams shooting occurred just a few weeks after police shot and killed a Mexican immigrant of Mayan descent, Luis Gongora, on April 7. Gongora's family filed a wrongful death suit against the city last week.

The seven-page complaint over Williams' death, filed in federal court on Wednesday, offers only a brief, one-sentence description of the facts surrounding the case.

"On May 19, 2016, defendant Erb and one other officer engaged in a brief pursuit of 29-year-old Jessica Williams where Williams reportedly crashed the car she was driving into a parked truck and then was attempting to continue fleeing when Erb shot her," the complaint states.

The lawsuit does not indicate how the plaintiff, Carol Walker, is connected to Williams.

The complaint alleges three claims against the city — excessive force, wrongful death, and respondeat superior, which seeks to hold the city liable for Erb's actions.

Walker's attorney, Gregory Finch of the Signature Law Group in Sacramento, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Friday morning.

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