Police released body camera footage on Friday of the February shooting death of Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old black man, who was found by officers sleeping in his car in a Taco Bell drive-thru in California.
“The Vallejo Police Department wants to address the questions that have been raised to help the public digest both the media reports and to facilitate a community dialogue about the facts of this incident,” the department wrote in a press release about the footage.
On Feb. 9, police shot and killed McCoy, an aspiring rapper, who moments before had been asleep in his car. Police claimed he was reaching for a firearm in his lap. The footage that police released Friday does not clearly show his lap, his hands or a firearm. A department press release at the time said a handgun was recovered from the vehicle.
The 30-minute video includes audio from a 911 call reporting a person “unresponsive” in a vehicle, audio from dispatch to officers and “enhanced” video from officers’ body cameras, according to the press release.
In the video, police are seen outside a car, pointing flashlights and at least one gun into the vehicle. An officer says there’s “a gun in his lap.” They discuss the car doors being locked. McCoy, who is not clearly visible, cannot be seen moving. After a few minutes, McCoy is seen scratching his shoulder, after which an officer says, “He’s moving. He’s not up yet.” McCoy can then be seen leaning forward and one arm moving. The video, now in slow motion, includes a caption saying he is reaching for a gun in his lap. The footage does not show his lap, and no firearm is visible. Officers begin to yell “hands up,” and within seconds, a slew of gunshots are fired into the car.
“To respect the privacy of the decedent and his family, we are withholding the portions of the videos showing officers rendering medical aid,” the police said in their statement Friday.
The McCoy family’s attorney Melissa Nold told HuffPost on Monday that her office plans to file a civil lawsuit in the next 30 to 60 days.
“We believe Mr. McCoy was still asleep or barely awakening when he was killed,” she said, adding that officers “unnecessarily used deadly force.”
“There is nothing in that video that indicated he was reaching for a gun,” she said.
WARNING: The video below contains graphic content.
In late February, civil rights attorney John Burris (who works for the same law firm as Nold) filed a wrongful death claim on the family’s behalf, alleging that the Vallejo Police Department’s handling of the encounter with McCoy was “bungled from start to finish.”
“They had time, the boy was asleep — they didn’t have to rush the car,” Burris said at the time in front of Vallejo’s City Hall, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
After Friday’s footage was released, a petition from activist group Million Hoodies called for the officers involved to be fired immediately. Nold told the Times that the officers had been placed on administrative leave and were back on duty weeks later.
The shooting is under investigation by the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, the police department’s press release said. HuffPost reached out to the department and the DA’s office but did not immediately receive responses.
“Police violence is gun violence. No one deserves to be shot dead in our communities,” the Million Hoodies petition reads.
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