William Nelson (Full Name: William “Willie” Burrell Nelson) Died After Hoopa Police Shooting on Route 96 Following Traffic Stop

HOOPA, CALIFORNIA (November 5, 2023) – A 43-year-old man identified as William Nelson, who went by Willie, has tragically died in a Hoopa police shooting along Route 96.

Humboldt County officials are saying that the incident took place September 17th. A California Highway Patrol officer identified as Neil Johnson attempted to pull over William Nelson.

The suspected violations for the traffic stop included a broken windshield and a seat-belt violation. Officers are saying that William Nelson eventually came to a stop but abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot for around 200 yards.

CHP officers allege that there was some type of altercation before the officer deployed his taser and later shot the suspect multiple times. Paramedics were called to the scene.

Sadly, William Nelson was later pronounced dead. His family have spoken with reporters and have said that they believe that there are inconsistencies with his autopsy and what they have seen with their own eyes.

A full investigation is currently being completed by the California Department of Justice.


Liability For Hoopa Police Shootings

Far too many people are killed in police shootings each year. According to the Washington Post, “Although half of the people shot and killed by police are White, Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for roughly 14 percent of the U.S. population and are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans. Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.” There are a number of steps that police departments should take to prevent police shootings.

  • All police officers should receive ample training that focuses on de-escalation techniques and crisis intervention.
  • Police departments should develop clear and comprehensive use-of-force policies that prioritize the preservation of life.
  • Police departments should be transparent about all use-of-force encounters involving their officers.
  • Police departments should seek community feedback on policing practices and policies.

Police officers should always use lethal force as an absolute measure of last resort. When a police officer uses excessive force and kills or injures a suspect, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. Pursuant to 42 U.S. Code § 1983, every person who, under the color of any statute, law or ordinance, causes a citizen of the United States to be deprived of their rights secured by the constitution, shall be liable to the injured party in an action at law. It is important that evidence is properly preserved after any police shooting.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • Body camera footage from all officers involved should be sought.
  • An independent autopsy may need to be performed.
  • Medical records related to a police shooting should be examined.

It is ultimately evidence which will paint a clear picture of what happened regardless of what any officer claims. Many police shootings involve officers who were not following department protocols. It is important for family members of those killed by police to understand that they do have rights. The family of any person that dies in a police shooting can hold the police department involved accountable through a civil claim. A civil rights attorney can examine the unique facts of your case and let you know if police officers violated the law in their use of lethal force.


Investigating Hoopa Police Shootings

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of William Nelson. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. It is our sincere hope that there is some accountability and transparency for what took place.

Do you need more information about a Hoopa police shooting? Our team of civil rights attorneys are here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that police departments are held accountable for their actions and following constitutional standards. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any police shooting we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.


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