Sheila DeToy, 17

San Francisco, California
May 13, 1998

Agencies: San Francisco Police Department California

Cause of death: Shooting

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Last updated: almost 4 years ago


Seventeen-year-old Sheila Detoy was killed by a San Francisco police officer on May 13, 1998. By all accounts, Sheila was a wonderful young girl. She was still just a child, so she had a child's optimism and dreams.

It is now eight years since she was shot dead by a plainclothes San Francisco police officer as she sat as a passenger in a car pulling out of a driveway. The officer was seeking another passenger in the car, a young man who had not shown up for a court appearance on a drug charge. He fired into the car and the bullet tore through Shiela's neck. She bled to death.

What happened next was horrible in its own right. With a cruelty that defies understanding, a department spokesperson issued an official statement just hours after she was killed. He said: "She was no innocent victim. She was trying to live the hip-hop lifestyle."

This cold, and completely false, characterization of Sheila was repeated in every television, radio and newspaper account of the shooting. It seemed that it was not enough that she was brutally slain. For some reason, her character and reputation had to be massacred along with her. So those who loved Sheila not only had to cope with her ghastly killing, they also had to watch as her memory was publicly trashed.

...Now, eight years after Sheila's death, my prediction is that there will never be a hearing on the charges. When the long, losing route through the courts by the [Police Officers Association] finally plays out and a hearing is ultimately set, the officers involved will simply retire and that will be the end of it. So whatever the truth is about Sheila's killing, it will never be determined by an honest examination of the facts and the evidence.

Legal Action

November 1998 Lawsuit filed

 November 2000 the civil action filed by Diane DeToy against the city and Breslin was settled.

Community and Family Efforts