VALLEJO (CBS SF) — An independent special counsel brought in to investigate the Vallejo police shooting of Bay Area rapper Willie McCoy has ruled the six officers acted in self-defense and should not face any charges in the 2019 shooting that left McCoy dead and his car riddled with bullets in a Taco Bell drive-thru.
After interviewing the six officers, eight witnesses and reviewing body-cam videos, special counsel Michael Ramos concluded that the officers felt their lives were threatened and acted in self-defense.READ MORE: Despite Short-Term Drop in Vaccine Supply, State Officials Predict Full Reopening by Summer
“It was my conclusion that the officers’ actions in this situation and scenario were justified,” Ramos told KPIX 5 in an interview. “They all felt that they were in fear for their life, they were in fear for the other officers, and in fear for the civilians that were outside of the Taco Bell.”
Friday afternoon, the Vallejo Police Department issued a statement saying, “The death of Willie McCoy is a tragic loss of life. We continue to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. McCoy.
Since the investigation and conclusions of the special prosecutor are independent of the City of Vallejo and the Vallejo Police Department, we are referring all questions regarding this matter to the special prosecutor appointed by the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.”
McCoy, 20, suffered 38 gunshot wounds, 13 to the chest, in the February 9, 2019 shooting as he sat in his silver Mercedes. Another independent report issued on the incident found that the officers fired 55 rounds in 3.5 seconds.
The incident began around 10:36 p.m. in the drive-thru lane of the Taco Bell restaurant located at 974 Admiral Callaghan Lane. Vallejo police said an employee called 911 to report a man slumped over the driver’s seat of a Mercedes was parked in the drive-thru.
Officers said when they arrived, they found McCoy slumped over and unresponsive in the car with a gun in his lap and the transmission of the car in “drive.” As officers surrounded the car, they have claimed McCoy woke up.
The officers made efforts to stop any forward progress by the Mercedes as they assessed the situation and asked for additional resources, but McCoy suddenly began to move.READ MORE: San Francisco Nightlife Rebounds as Pandemic Restrictions Ease
The officers told McCoy to keep his hands visible, but he allegedly reached for the handgun on his lap. In fear for their own safety, the officers opened fire.
“Each officer had his own perspective of the movement. I watched their video cameras. I watched it, how [McCoy] woke up. And all [the officers] indicated that he went down and reached for the gun. In their mind, [McCoy[ was reaching for the gun,” said Ramos.
“We still haven’t never seen any footage that actually shows him reaching for a gun. You see him moving,” said civil rights attorney Melissa Nold, who represents the McCoy family.
She and the family maintain that McCoy’s race played a factor in the deadly response by the officers.
“They’re still reeling with the shock and disgust and just the sort of feeling that justice in America isn’t necessary meant for young Black men,” said Nold.
There has been a public outcry over several Vallejo officer-involved shootings including McCoy’s death.
Early in July, Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams announced that her office would recuse itself from reviewing the deadly Vallejo police shootings of McCoy and San Francisco resident Sean Monterrosa, the unarmed man who was killed during a George Floyd protest.
She then called on State Attorney General Xavier Beccera to investigate the shootings, but Becerra’s office declined.
“We listened to the concerns of the community and the overwhelming public demand for an independent review of this case and reached out to the Attorney General’s Office for assistance,” Abrams said in a post on the Solano County District Attorney’s Office Facebook page. “Although it is disappointing the Attorney General declined our request to review the case, we are confident that Mr. Ramos will provide a fair, comprehensive and independent review.”MORE NEWS: U.S. Supreme Court Orders California to Lift Pandemic Restrictions on Home Worship
So Abrams appointed Ramos as a special prosecutor to review the McCoy shooting. His conclusions were released Thursday night.