Yuvette Henderson’s family, represented by civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, has filed a lawsuit against the city of Emeryville and two police officers responsible for the death of Henderson.
The federal lawsuit seeks an undeclared amount of compensation for the Henderson family, including economic loss, pain and suffering, funeral expenses and possibly punitive damages against the city.
Henderson was killed on Feb. 3 when two Emeryville police officers shot her after responding to a report from Home Depot in Emeryville of an alleged shoplifting incident.
Store security said the suspect appeared to be armed and had suffered a head injury, requesting an ambulance.
Henderson was pursued by the police officers, who shot her with several weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle. According to police, Henderson was in possession of a gun and “pointed her gun in the direction of the EPD officers.”
But according to attorney Dan Siegel, “The evidence that we have gathered so far indicates the officers were under no threat at all at the time they fired at Ms. Henderson.”
“They hit her at least three times, and none of those shots were at the front of her body. They were in her back and her side,” Siegel said during a press conference.
Other incongruities include a head-injury suffered by Henderson inside Home Depot. Activists say that she was assaulted by security staff, but other sources claim that she fell and hit her head.
Crucial details are still missing because surveillance video evidence has not been released. One of the officers had a body camera, but it was only activated after the shooting.
“It’s important to note that after intense community pressure and at least two demonstrations, OPD finally relented and allowed myself and two of Yuvette’s family members to view the videos,” said Cat Brooks, founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project.
“The problem is that it excluded the two most important moments of the incident. It excluded her assault inside of Home Depot and excluded the actual execution of Yuvette Henderson,” said Brooks.
A coroner’s report was released to the family after eight months, but the police report still has not been made public. Siegel hopes to subpoena crucial evidence for the lawsuit.
“What we’ve uncovered in our investigation is not as much as we would have liked because of the reluctance of EPD to provide us with what we need to prepare for trial in the case,” said Siegel.
“Details remain to be developed. There are witnesses who say she was not acting in any way that was dangerous or provocative. There are a lot of witnesses to interview from now until the trial,” said Siegel.
Henderson’s sister Antrinette Jenkins said, “We’re not asking for sympathy or love, but justice and peace.”
The shooting is the third officer-involved shooting in Emeryville in 35 years, and EPD’s use of a military-grade weapon to kill Henderson has sparked debate about the weapon’s place in the Emeryville police department.