By Julietta Bisharyan, Rafiya Naqvi, Nick Domenici, and Madeline Gile
VALLEJO – In 2019, Vallejo police fired more than 40 shots through the vehicle of Willie McCoy, killing the man as he slept in his vehicle in one of 18 fatal police shootings in the city in the last decade.
Now, under scrutiny for the recent shooting of Sean Monterrosa, the Vallejo Police Department has now released additional documents and video footage related to the previous fatal incident.
The body camera footage shows McCoy’s killing while the documents reveal that the Vallejo police chief recommended the firing of the officer at the center of the internal investigation into McCoy’s death back in March. That officer, Ryan McMahon, was kept in the Vallejo Police Department (VPD) after shooting and killing another man, Ronell Foster, in 2018.
“Our hope is that this information helps members of the public separate fact from fiction regarding this investigation,” reads a statement from the VPD.
On February 9, 2019, around 10:30 pm, McCoy was found unconscious at the drive-thru of a Vallejo Taco Bell, in his car with a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun in his lap. A Taco Bell employee called 911, informing the dispatcher that he was unresponsive.
911 Call Audio
Caller is the Taco Bell worker on Admiral Callaghan. Individual states, “I have a person unresponsive to car horn honks in my drive through.” He claims other employees have attempted to knock on his window but there was no response. The car was described to be a silver Mercedes-Benz.
Body Camera Footage:
The video footage begins with an officer pointing his gun at a car window and saying, “There’s a gun in his lap. I’m going to bust that f***ing window.”
The reflection in the mirror shows a Taco Bell sign as McCoy appears unconscious in the driver’s seat. McCoy’s gun is not visible in the footage.
“I’m going to pull him out and snatch his ass,” the officer continues. “I don’t even want to give him a chance.”
The officer then points out that the gun’s magazine is half-out, indicating that McCoy could only fire one shot, given the chance. “If he shoots he’s only got one shot,” an officer confirms.
The officers observe that the door looks unlocked and the officer speaking expresses that the course of action he intends to take is to “snatch” the individual out of the car.
The officers decide to open the door to retrieve the alleged gun and pull McCoy out from the car, but find the door locked.
“If he reaches for it…,” cautions one officer.
“Yup,” says the officer holding the gun.
The officer whose body camera recorded this footage has his gun placed on the windshield of the car in front of the individual, he later moves his aim toward the window on the driver’s seat side. The other officer prepares himself to open the door and “yank” the gun from the man inside of the car.
It is also mentioned by one of the officers that the car gear was on “drive.”
After awhile, McCoy begins to move, scratching his shoulder, although it is unclear that he is conscious yet. At one point the captioning on the video camera footage indicates that McCoy’s left hand is reaching for the gun on his lap, though no object is not entirely visible. It is only clear that there is some motion within the vehicle. Immediately, the officer holding the gun yells at him to put his hands up and five other officers shoot at the car repeatedly for approximately four seconds, shattering the window. Shortly after an officer orders them to “cease fire.” McCoy’s car slightly moves forward.
“Everyone be very careful if you shoot again, there’s a lot of us here,” cautions an officer.
Then, the officers ask around if everyone is okay. They continue to yell at McCoy to put his hands up, observing that he is unresponsive.
Another officer then opens the door and pull McCoy’s body out by his arm and leg, which is covered in blood and bullet holes. The shirt fabric McCoy’s right side is covered in blood. They flip him on his stomach and handcuff him. His shoes are left in the car.
One of the officers in the back appears to be in distress, and he throws his hands in the air while another officer tells him “Stop, stop, it’s okay.”
There are now somewhere around 7 officers on site. At least five surround McCoy’s body. One officer asks for a first aid kit as they locate where each of the bullet holes are. The officer then walks over to another police car and grabs the kit. Two officers begin to apply pressure on McCoy’s chest while another applies gauze pads to the bullet holes. They feel for any bullet holes on McCoy’s head. One officer apply compressions.
“Just keep doing chest pressures on him,” says one officer.
Throughout the footage, the officers continue to ask one another if they are okay. One officer tells the others that he’s turning off his body camera.
“We got 40 holes over here” an officer announces.
Multiple officers say that they were responsible for a shot saying “I shot.”
Another video shows an officer join the others in the shooting immediately after getting out of his car. He continues to point his gun at the car even after McCoy has been laid onto the wet ground. A magazine appears to be on the now bloodied driver’s seat. There is also a drink in the cup holder.
The officer then walks over to a bystander’s car to ask if they’re okay.
“I have family that works for Contra Costa County, so I’m probably a little better than she is now,” the witness driver says laughing, referring to the woman in the passenger seat.
Several others approach witness vehicles to see if everything is fine, while another grabs yellow caution tape from the trunk of the cop car and hangs it around the area. An officer arrives at the scene and asks who the actors are in the incident, counting six of them off. They all then shut their body cameras off.
A collection of the entire case documents, “The VPD Final Documents,” which detail the investigation were released to the public.
McCoy’s autopsy deems his death a homicide and announces that he was dead on the scene. He totaled 38 gunshot wounds, 13 being fatal hits. Gunshot wounds were found penetrating both his lungs and heart.
A witness who had been dining at a nearby Wingstop observed and filmed the scene. He stated he “assumed it was more than one person in the car because of the number of gunshots that he heard, and he indicated it sounded like an overkill,” stated Supplement 36.
Officers at the scene justified their actions by reporting they were “fearing for their safety” and “stopping the threat.” Prior to shooting, officers suspected McCoy was attempting to conceal a firearm in his waistband and preparing to shoot, a tactic known as the appendix carry. In response, six officers fired on the suspect multiple times.
Additionally, the autopsy consisted of a toxicology test which found that McCoy had a combination of Benzoylecgonine, Cocaine, and THC present in his blood.
McCoy was released to the Beker Atkins Mortuary for final disposition.
Following his death, the Vallejo Police Department was granted warrants to search McCoy’s car and all associations with his Instagram account “_williebo_.” Officers suspected probable cause relating McCoy to gang violence. The warrants gave officers access to all of McCoy’s followers, direct messages, and photos, where officers looked for more weapons and his associations.
Internal Affairs Investigation
Following the incident at Taco Bell, respondent Officer McMahon was put under investigation for unsafe conduct at the scene. Interim police chief Joe Allio launched an Internal Affairs Investigation Nov. 5, 2019.
McMahon reacted to McCoy’s sudden motion by firing, not realizing how close Glick was in front of him. This act violated officer safety guidelines and endangered Officer Glick.
McMahon responded to the scene with five other officers and was instructed to block the front of McCoy’s vehicle to prevent him from leaving. Upon arrival, McMahon found that Officer Glick’s car was already blocking McCoy in and decided to park behind Glick anyway.
The scene quickly escalated as McCoy refused to follow orders. Officers on the scene fired under the belief that McCoy was armed and dangerous. Interviews with each officer reveal that everyone present suspected McCoy was concealing a weapon he intended to use.
McMahon states he believed he was witnessing a mutual combative shooting, meaning McCoy was firing at officers. After yelling at bystanders and Taco Bell employees to go inside, he fired one round at McCoy. McMahon claims he stopped firing as Officer Glick crossed in front of him.
“I knew he was in front” said McMahon, “I thought he was off to the left more than he – he was. I’m in a position where this dude’s shooting, I wanna protect myself and my partners.”
The investigation found that McMahon engaged in unsafe conduct and neglected basic firearm training which posed a risk to the officers around him.
McMahon was terminated for the following: Failure to observe or violating department safety standards or safe work practices, unsafe firearm or other dangerous weapon handling and unsatisfactory work performance.
“Any loss of life is a tragedy” stated Police Chief Andrew Bidou in response to McCoy’s death.
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