20-year-old Willie James McCoy was shot dead in California
An aspiring rapper was shot dead by six police officers after he was found asleep in a car with a gun in his lap.
Willie James McCoy, 20, was sleeping in a car outside a Taco Bell in Vallejo, near San Francisco on February 9. Restaurant staff called the police to report a man slumped over in a car.
In a statement, police said the driver was “unresponsive” with a gun on his lap. Two officers tried to wake him up but failed. They called for back-up and said they planned to try and quietly take the weapon from the vehicle.
“While officers were still positioning a patrol unit to the rear of the vehicle, and waiting for the [police] supervisor, the driver began to suddenly move and looked at the uniformed patrol officers,” the statement said.
“Officers gave the driver several commands to put his hands up. The driver did not comply and instead he quickly moved his hands downward for the firearm. Fearing for their safety, six officers fired their duty weapons at the driver.”
The police fired “multiple rounds” for approximately four seconds before unlocking the car through the broken window. They attempted to resuscitate McCoy, who was known by the stage name Willie Bo, but he died at the scene.
Officers said the gun was fully loaded and had been reported stolen from Oregon.
Vallejo police chief Andrew Bidou said “any loss of life is a tragedy”, adding that an investigation was in its early stages. “Information confirming the driver’s identity, how many times the driver was struck by gunfire, and toxicology will not be available until the autopsy is completed,” a statement said.
David Harrison told the Los Angeles Times that the man who had been killed was his cousin McCoy, describing him as a “good-hearted kid.” He explained that McCoy had been at a studio recording music that day and had recently finished touring with his family so was probably tired.
In a video posted to Facebook, Harrison added: “My little cousin was asleep in the car – they shot him 20 motherfucking times.” He also criticised the police, saying they “can’t just keep killing us in the streets like this.”
McCoy’s brother Marc told The Guardian there “was no attempt to try to work out a peaceful situation.” “The police’s job is to arrest people who are breaking the law – not take the law into your own hands. You’re not judge, jury and executioner […] We’re never going to get over this.”