Willie McCoy was asleep when police surrounded and startled him in a drive through and fired on him in 4 seconds.
By Jayme S. Ganey
Falling asleep at a Taco Bell drive through was deadly for a Black rapper in Vallejo, California.
Willie Bo McCoy, 20, was not awake when police approached him. Police thought about trying to remove the gun in his lap first, but when Willie woke up, and police instructed him to put his hands up he put them down instead.
Six Vallejo officers “fearing for their safety” opened fire in about four seconds. 25 bullets hit him, but more were fired.
They said they gave him warnings as they were shooting him, but he was unresponsive— probably because he was dying.
Vallejo police have had a number of issues surrounding excessive force with people of color, and many have become deadly. Angel Ramos was fatally shot by Vallejo officers in his family home two years ago. Mario Romero was killed by 30 bullets fired by police in 2012.
Half of the Black men shot dead by police this year were not fleeing, and almost three-quarters of them were armed. 57% of them, who were armed with a gun, weren’t fleeing in 2018.
“Police have a campaign of executing young Black men who fit a certain profile,” McCoy’s cousin, David Harrison, said Tuesday. “Willie dressed the part. He represents hip-hop music.”
Six officers knew enough and spent time to block McCoy’s car in as he was sleeping, collectively approach him, give him warnings as McCoy woke up from his nap, but shot him with 25 bullets in four seconds.
Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina and an expert on police use of force, said that police should account for a person’s natural reflexes to protect themselves when startled.
“If they’re smart enough to block the car, why aren’t they anticipating for the worst but understanding that there’s always a good chance that he’s an innocent person who fell asleep and wanted the gun for protection?” he asked.
David Klinger, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and former police officer, said, “Unless there’s some really extraordinary explanation, too many bullets were fired by too many officers.”
“Even under the worst case scenario, you still have an obligation to try and avoid the use of deadly force,” said Oakland attorney Melissa Nold, who examined McCoy’s body. “Overkill is an understatement.”
The family has requested the body cam footage. They weren’t notified of McCoy’s death by police for over a week.