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Vallejo police chief supported firing officer over death of Black man shot 55 times

Willie McCoy and relatives
Willie McCoy, right, was shot and killed by Vallejo police. A family photo shows him with cousin David Harrison, center, and nephew Danaree Cole.
(David Harrison)

The police chief of Vallejo recommended firing one of six officers who shot and killed a man who had been sleeping in a car with a gun in his lap last year, according to documents released Wednesday.

Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams agreed with an internal investigation into the February 2019 death of Willie McCoy that found the officer engaged in unsafe conduct, according to investigation documents released on a city website, KPIX-TV reported.

Also released were more than a dozen video clips, including police body-camera footage and cellphone video, of the shooting of McCoy, 20.

Police were called after McCoy, a local rapper, had fallen asleep in a running car in the drive-through lane at a fast-food restaurant. Police said McCoy was ordered to keep his hands visible, but he reached for his gun and that’s when six officers opened fire.

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McCoy was shot 55 times in 3.5 seconds.

Body-camera video showed McCoy, 21, with his head slumped to his left as police surrounded his car with guns drawn. He scratched his left shoulder, sat up and turned away from officers who were yelling for him to show his hands.

Police body-camera video shows a detective in a pickup truck firing a rifle through the windshield, killing a man mistakenly thought to have a gun.

The newly released documents included a Police Department memo in March in which the police chief calls for Officer Ryan McMahon to be fired. McMahon is still employed by the department.

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Williams agreed with an investigation that found McMahon showed “neglect for basic firearm safety and Vallejo Police firearms training” by firing while running from the rear and endangered other officers, the memo said.

The Solano County district attorney’s office announced last week that a special prosecutor has been named to review the shooting, which is one of several that have led to criticism of Vallejo police. They include the June 2 killing of Sean Monterrosa, 22, during a night of demonstrations against police brutality and killings of Black people.

Monterrosa was suspected of stealing from a pharmacy and was killed by an officer who fired a rifle through the windshield of an unmarked vehicle carrying police.

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Authorities said they believed Monterrosa, who was on his knees, had a gun, but it turned out to be a hammer.

In the wake of that shooting, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said his office would review the Vallejo Police Department and recommend reforms to use-of-force policies and measures involving bias and community policing.

Last week, the police chief said he was opening an inquiry into allegations that officers bent their badges to mark on-duty killings.


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