Emeryville Settlement with Henderson Family concludes dark chapter for City

Published On September 7, 2017 | By Rob Arias | Local Government, News & Commentary

In a noteworthy piece of news that was not reported, The City of Emeryville settled with the family of Yuvette Henderson last April ending a dark chapter for the EPD and the city. It’s been over two years since Emeryville Police officer Warren Williams fired the fatal shot at Henderson. The February 3rd, 2015 officer-involved shooting was the first fatality involving the EPD since 2005.

Williams and fellow officer Michelle Sheppard were responding to a call where Henderson was alleged to have shoplifted and in possession of a handgun. Officer and witness accounts reported that Henderson ignored verbal commands and pointed the revolver in the officers’ direction before they opened fire on her.

City Attorney Michael Guina read details of the settlement after a closed session held back on April 18th. The terms of the settlement outlined that the city insurer would pay $210,000 to the family in exchange for dismissing the case and waiving their rights to pursue any future claims. Settlement figures are often calculated based on how much an ongoing trial would cost a municipality and are not considered an admission of guilt.

The City of Emeryville originally presented a motion to dismiss the family’s wrongful death federal civil suit back on February 23rd. United States Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu refused to dismiss the civil suit citing eyewitness reports and other evidence conflicted with Williams’ account and could lead a jury to conclude that the shooting was unjustified.

The United States District Court was notified that the case has been settled and dismissal of the case signed by Ryu.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case is dismissed in its entirety with prejudice; provided, however, that if any party hereto shall certify to this court, within 60 days, with proof of service of a copy thereon to opposing counsel, that the agreed consideration for said settlement has not been delivered over, the foregoing Order shall stand vacated and this case shall forthwith be restored to the calendar to be set for trial. All further dates are vacated.

The Henderson family was represented by Oakland Attorney Dan Siegel. Siegel has represented many high-profile cases against The Oakland Police Department including a class-action suit on behalf of detained Occupy Oakland protesters who shared a $1.4 million settlement and the officer-involved shooting death of Alan Blueford whose family received $110K.

The incident touched off protests, the shut down of City Hall and ongoing discussions of the “militarization” of police after it was revealed the weapon used was an AR-15 rifle. Outgoing sixteen year Police Chief Ken James was replaced by interim Chief Dave Hall and ultimately by Sausalito Chief Jennifer Tejada. Tejada has taken the force in a more modern direction by employing mindfulness in an attempt to confront unconscious bias and reduce incidents of use of force by her officers.

Feature Image: CBS News

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

2 Responses to Emeryville Settlement with Henderson Family concludes dark chapter for City

  1. Phil says:

    Did the Emeryville PD ever release any details of internal investigations and/or actions taken against the officers involved? I’m a fan of Emeryville PD but the complete lack of info about this case is very disturbing, even not taking the current national focus on police brutality into account.

    • Rob Arias says:

      Thanks Phil, I’ll inquire about any kind of public report but it’s definitely not something that’s posted online and EPD’s public website is pretty flimsy. I know the officers were put on administrative leave after the incident which is standard protocol.

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