Footage is consistent with claims of McCoy’s family, who said officers did not try to wake him or talk to him before shooting
Vallejo police have released footage of the killing of Willie McCoy at a Taco Bell, showing six officers shooting the 20-year-old who was sleeping in his car.
The disturbing body-camera videos show the young rapper had moved his hand to scratch his shoulder before officers opened fire. The footage is consistent with key claims of McCoy’s family, who watched footage earlier this month and said the officers “executed” him while he was not alert or awake. The videos, released after significant pressure, show:
- The officers did not try to wake McCoy up or talk to him after they spotted a gun in his lap, and instead pointed their firearms at his head directly outside the car as he slept for several minutes.
- One officer said: “I’m going to pull him out and snatch his ass.”
- The officers then realized the firearm did not have a magazine in it, noting to each other that if it was loaded, it would have a single bullet in it: “He’s only got one shot if he shoots.”
- The officers then appeared to make a plan to fire at him, with one saying, “If he reaches for it, you know what to do.”
- McCoy eventually started to move, scratching his shoulder and not yet appearing alert or saying anything to officers, and several seconds later, all six officers fired at him.
Vallejo police officials slowed down the video in the final seconds before the shootings, adding a caption that said “hand reaches to gun on lap”. The videos of the 9 February incident, however, are blurry in that moment and show McCoy’s body moving slightly, but do not capture his hand moving to the firearm, which is not visible in the footage.
Marc McCoy, Willie’s older brother, told the Guardian on Friday that he was glad the public would finally see the video, but was not confident it would lead to justice.
“There’s a thousand videos on YouTube that show police misconduct, whether it’s beatings of citizens or killing them,” said Marc, 50. “It gets dismissed … The Vallejo police saw the video, and they don’t think there’s anything wrong with it or that the officers did anything criminal.”
The police department in Vallejo, 30 miles north-east of San Francisco, has repeatedly claimed that the six officers fired out of “fear for their own safety”. The footage, however, shows some of them talking somewhat calmly for nearly five minutes before they opened fire. Two officers began shooting almost immediately after they arrived on scene as backup.
After the officers stopped shooting, they all kept their guns pointed at the car, shouting, “Let me see your hands! Put your hands up!” One said, “Officers are okay.”
Police hit Willie with an estimated 25 shots, including in his face, throat, chest, ear and arms. John Burris, the family’s lawyer, showed reporters graphic photos of Willie’s body at a news conference Friday, saying, “He was shot to pieces.”