STOCKTON (CBS13) — A year after jumping from a speeding car to save her life from three armed robbers and police gunfire, a hostage is telling her story exclusively to CBS13.
Stephanie Koussaya was the bank teller taken hostage in a wild police pursuit around Stockton in July 2014.
She still has flashbacks to when she sat in silence next to an armed robber.
“They were kind of focusing on just getting out. Getting away from the police. They weren’t saying anything really to us at all,” she said.
Koussaya was one of three women taken hostage by three gunmen who came into the Bank of the West in Stockton on July 16, 2014.
“They were scared,” she said. “They were probably just as scared as we were. They were trying to get away from the cops.”
Koussaya says only one gunman was firing at officers.
“There were gunshots just from the kid in the back. The guy in the back was shooting his big—whatever it was—leaving massive gunpowder to fly around the car,” she said.
But after her bank manager was accidentally shot and let out of the car, Koussaya saw the SWAT team join the pursuit.
“There was enough gunshots being fired at our vehicle where it was hard enough to protect myself. I had to get out,” she said.
She made the decision to jump.
“The last thing I remember is placing my hand on the door handle and then I just blacked out,” she said.
The pursuit eventually ended when police opened fire on Thornton Road. The last hostage, Misty Holt-Singh died after investigators say she was used as a human shield by the only surviving suspect.
Koussaya says the jump saved her life, but she suffers brain damage from the fall.
“I noticed just different things hurting,” she said. “Different parts of my body aren’t responding well. My cognitive thinking isn’t good. My conversations are terrible.”
Her attorney filed a civil-rights lawsuit against the city of Stockton and its police department on Friday.
“The city of Stockton Police Department took a situation where these women were in danger and placed them where they were going to die. Ultimately, my client would have died had she not been lucky enough to jump out of this car, moving as it was at 50 mph,” said her attorney Rob Piering.
Koussaya says she doesn’t want to attend the surviving suspect’s trial. Instead, she’s looking ahead to heal and hope for her future.
Koussaya has almost daily doctor’s appointments and experiences frequent headaches. She says she hopes to one day be able to return to work.
The Bank of the West where it all began was closed shortly after the shooting and eventually became a Starbucks.