SAN FRANCISCO – The family of a bank robbery hostage shot and killed in Stockton blamed police on Wednesday for the death and demanded the city take financial responsibility.
Missy Holt-Singh was shot July 16 during a high-speed chase and shootout between police and three robbers. Two other hostages were wounded.
Gregory Bentley, a lawyer for Holt-Singh's family, said police officers acted irresponsibly by engaging in a running gun battle with the robbers while chasing their car through Stockton's streets. Two of the robbers were also shot and killed.
The claim filed with the city alleges that robbers used Holt-Singh as a "human shield." Bentley said officers fired more than 600 shots and that 10 struck the 41-year-old Holt-Singh.
Bentley said police should not have fired on the robbers as long as Holt-Singh was exposed to danger.
"The police department's primary duty is to protect the hostage," Bentley said. "Shooting while Misty was in the vehicle violates every standard practice of police protocol."
Holt-Singh's husband and two children are expected to file a lawsuit if city officials decline to approve the claim. They asked for unspecified damages.
Holt-Singh was at the bank that day to withdraw $40 from a cash machine while her teenage daughter waited in the car. One of the robber's forced Holt-Singh inside the bank while he was on the way in, Bentley said.
Stockton police spokesman Joe Silva referred calls to the city manager's office. City manager spokeswoman Connie Cochran didn't immediately return a call and email inquiry.
Kelly Huber, one of the two surviving hostages, previously filed a $500,000 claim with the city of Stockton, which is still pending. The city has filed for bankruptcy, but Bentley said that shouldn't prevent the city from pay damages if it is determined police are liable for Holt-Singh's death. Bentley said the city has insurance covering up to $39 million in damages.