OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The family of a woman shot and killed by Emeryville police officers in Oakland earlier this year contends in a civil rights complaint filed Thursday that she was shot in the back and never raised her gun at the two officers, contradicting the police account of the incident.
According to the complaint, Officer Michelle Shepherd and Officer Warren Williams shot 38-year-old Yuvette Henderson multiple times in the head and back near the Extra Space Storage facility at 3406 Hollis St. on the afternoon of Feb. 3.
The complaint—seeking damages for wrongful death, excessive force, loss of familial relationship and battery by a police officer—was filed on behalf of Henderson’s six children, though four of them could not be found before it was filed.
Civil rights attorney and former Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel filed the complaint in Oakland Thursday morning.
Henderson was detained by store security on suspicion of shoplifting outside the Home Depot store at 3838 Hollis St. in Emeryville at about 12:35 p.m. According to Emeryville police, she was trying to steal knives and other items.
While the security guards were on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, Henderson fell and hit her head and an ambulance and police officers were dispatched to the store. She then left, allegedly pulling a revolver on the guards.
Police officers caught up with her a few blocks away at the storage facility. According to police, she tried to carjack at least three different drivers as she walked there.
One witness said Henderson pointed a gun at his partner in the car behind him as they arrived in separate cars at the storage facility. The officers arrived and shot her there, blowing out the windows of the man’s car as she stood next to it.
Henderson’s shooting prompted protesters to congregate at the site and led #BlackLivesMatter activist to organize a protest days later at the Home Depot store.
The complaint contends that Henderson never raised her gun at the officers and was not even facing them at the time she was shot. Henderson was shot in the back when the officers fired multiple times, including with an AR-15 assault rifle, according to the complaint.
But Emeryville police have said she turned toward the officers and raised her gun before they opened fire. Williams was equipped with a body-worn camera as part of a pilot program but did not activate it before the shooting.
The family is seeking unspecified damages for Henderson’s death. They planned to hold a news conference at noon Thursday to further discuss the shooting.
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