By Jose Medina
DANVILLE, CA – With all eyes being on the Derek Chauvin trial, the U.S. is getting a good look at how the roles of law enforcement and the criminal justice system have been perpetrating violence and discrimination against the Black community for generations.
Another example surfaced Tuesday in Danville, where Tyrell Wilson, a homeless Black man diagnosed with schizophrenia, was shot in close range and killed by Danville Police Officer Andrew Hall on March 11.
Wilson was on his way toward his homeless encampment when he was followed and approached by Hall from behind. According to eyewitness accounts Wilson then turned around to face Hall and motioned with his hands as if asking, “Why are you following me?”—but he did not threaten the officer.
A witness in their car near the scene recorded the incident. The video captured the moment Hall shot Wilson as the witness gasped, uttering, “Dude, this dude just got shot and killed.” Hall could then be seen standing over Wilson, and not providing any first aid.
At a Tuesday news conference, John Burris, a civil rights attorney who represented Rodney King, announced a federal lawsuit against the City of Danville for the killing of Wilson. He argued Wilson’s civil rights were violated by Hall and that there must be justice for Wilson.
Named as defendants were Officer Hall, the City of Danville and Chief of Police Allan Shields.
According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Northern District, “Defendant Hall never lowered his gun, keeping it aimed directly at Mr. Wilson’s head. Then, at 6.28 seconds into the video, Defendant Hall simply fired his gun one time into the right side of Mr. Wilson’s face (who) crumpled to the ground, having never threatened Defendant Hall.
Hall is also responsible for the only other killing by a Danville officer since 2001—a shooting and killing of an unarmed man in his car in 2018.
The lawsuit described Hall as “a murderer hiding behind a badge and a District Attorney’s office who has never in recent memory prosecuted a police officer in an Officer-Involved Shooting, and a police department and Sheriff’s Office that let this murderer back on patrol.”
The lawsuit argued Hall and the City of Danville are guilty of “using excessive force, covering up the use of excessive force, failing to use reasonableless-intrusive alternatives to lethal force such as the Taser Defendant Hall possessed, failing to use de-escalation tactics, and failing to reasonably change their location to defuse potential threat.”
Burris noted that the body-worn camera footage of Hall has not been released, only a small photo still. Appalled by the injustice of the incident, Burris referenced the events in the video, pointing out that “the video and witness accounts show this was a cold murder,” adding that “ Wilson never had a chance.”
Burris scolded Hall’s actions, maintaining “he made no effort to deescalate (and) he seemed ‘hell-bent’ on bringing Wilson under control.” He emphasized how inhumane Hall was toward Wilson, likening it to “roping an uncooperative steer.”
According to Burris, after Wilson was shot by Hall, “Mr. Wilson laid mortally wounded in the street for 25 minutes before paramedics arrived.
He added that in Wilson’s final moments “neither Hall nor any other law enforcement personnel made any attempts to provide CPR before the medic(s) arrived.”
Burris revealed that this was not the only instance in which Hall shot someone while on duty. In 2018, Burris represented another unarmed man of color, Laudemer Arboleda, who was killed by Hall.
Burris recalled that the “shooting was so outrageous that we wrote a letter to the Contra Costa District Attorney asking them to criminally prosecute Hall.”
Frustrated with the apathy of the Contra Costa DA, he scathingly remarked, “They didn’t prosecute him and now he has killed another innocent man,” passionately adding, “Enough is enough. This officer is a menace.”
Burris promised to bring Hall to justice in honor of Wilson and his loved ones.
Jose graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Political Science and has interned for the California State Legislature. He is from Rocklin, CA.
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