The family of a woman killed while taken hostage in a shootout between bank robbers and police has reached a $5.75 million settlement with the Stockton Police Department.
The case stems from a July 16, 2014 robbery at a Bank of the West branch at 7810 Thornton Road in Stockton.
Misty Holt-Singh, a dental assistant well known in the community, had stopped at the bank that afternoon to withdraw money from the ATM before a hair appointment while her 12-year-old daughter waited in the car. On her way back to her car, three men intercepted her and forced her into the bank, where the armed robbery was about to take place, according to a detailed investigation and report by the Police Foundation.
Following the robbery, Holt-Singh and a bank employee were forced into a car. and the bank employee was required to drive the vehicle before one of the gunmen accidentally shot her in the leg, at which point she was pushed out of the car and left on the pavement, the report states.
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A police pursuit ensued, with the robbers firing more than 100 rounds through the car’s back windshield prompting pursuing officers to respond with 600 rounds aimed at the suspects. That reaction was deemed “unnecessary and excessive gunfire”, a Police Foundation investigation found.
Two of the three suspects were killed in the fire fight as was Holt-Singh, who was shot 10 times.
A statement released by Stockton Police on Wednesday said “on that day, our department faced a situation unlike any seen before by a law enforcement agency. The men and women of the Stockton Police Department responded with great courage, with many putting their own safety secondary to protecting the community.”
However, the Police Foundation described the police response as a failure of imagination in a report titled “A Heist Gone Bad.”
The Police Foundation investigation acknowledged that the Bank of the West robbery was a chaotic and complex incident that involved an armed robbery, hostage taking, vehicle pursuit and an active shooter situation and that “any one of these incidents by itself is difficult to resolve and requires a unique response.”
However, it said the department was unprepared, noting “agencies should not wait for an unusual or complex event to occur before conversations begin about response planning.” It recommended that agencies “invest in training (for) highly unusual, complex incidents that will not only sharpen response skills but also creative problem solving.”
As part of the settlement the city will honor Holt-Singh by naming either a street or park in her name, according to a press release issued by her family’s lawyer, who filed the lawsuit against the department.
”This is a bittersweet day for our entire family,” said Paul Singh, Misty Holt-Singh’s husband, in the press release. “I am grateful that the legal process is over, but the loss of Misty has left a void in our hearts that will never be filled.”