DANVILLE (CBS SF) — The shooting death by a White police officer of a homeless Black man with a history of mental health problems who was armed with a knife in Danville last month has prompted a federal civil rights lawsuit by the man’s family.
“I don’t know how this is going to stop. But something needs to be done so we don’t keep killing our black and brown men,” said a tearful Diane Wilson, 32-year-old Tyrell Wilson’s mother.
Civil rights attorney John Burris announced the lawsuit Tuesday at a press conference. Burris also released new video recorded on a cell phone by a driver at the intersection where the shooting happened March 11. The video shows Danville Police Officer Andrew Hall firing his service revolver at Tyrell Wilson at close range.
Warning: Video is graphic
The video also shows Officer Hall continuing to point his weapon at a motionless Wilson after shooting him. Burris said Hall never provided any first aid after shooting Wilson.
“The video and witness accounts show this was a cold murder. Wilson never had a chance,” said Burris in a prepared statement. “Equally disturbing with the shooting was the utter lack of urgency in providing medical care. Mr. Wilson laid mortally wounded in the street for 25 minutes before paramedics arrived. Neither Hall nor any other law enforcement personnel made any attempts to provide CPR before the medic(s) arrived.”
Wilson initially survived the shooting but died at a hospital six days later.
- Full complaint against Town of Danville, Danville Police
- Use of Force Guidelines – Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office
Wilson’s parents say they want the officer fired and criminally prosecuted for their son’s death.
“He waited until Tyrell turned around and said, ‘What do you want? Why are you following me?’ And that’s when he shot him in the face,” says Marvin Wilson, Tyrell’s father.
Police dispatchers had received multiple calls from motorists reporting a person who was throwing rocks off the Sycamore Valley Road overpass onto Interstate Highway 680. Burris said there is no evidence that Wilson was involved with the rock-throwing and he was walking across the street toward the bus stop “Park and Ride” where his homeless encampment was located when confronted by Hall.
According to the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s department, police dispatch, Hall approached Wilson as he stood in the street, and Wilson pulled out a folding knife and opened it, allegedly refusing to put down a knife after repeated demands.
At the time, the sheriff’s office said Wilson then advanced toward the officer, who discharged his weapon. But the video shows Wilson with his hands by his side and stepping back from Hall seconds before the shot was fired.
Attorney Michael Rains who represents Officer Hall says the video is not nearly as definitive as Burris would have the public believe. First, he says it did not record the relevant audio which includes important details of his client’s interaction with Wilson.
He says Officer Hall repeatedly told Wilson to drop the knife which he refused to do. In addition, Rains says Officer Hall’s body camera captured Wilson threatening the officer and moving towards him — albeit slowly — prior to the shooting.
Officer Hall has been a Danville police officer for seven and a half years and is currently on paid administrative leave in accordance with department policy.
Burris said Hall also shot and killed an unarmed man in 2018.
“That shooting was so outrageous that we wrote a letter to the Contra Costa District Attorney asking them to criminally prosecuted Hall,” said Burris in a press statement. “They didn’t and now he has killed another innocent man. Enough is enough. This officer is a menace.”
The lawsuit names Hall, the Town of Danville, and Danville Police Chief Allan Shields as defendants.
Rains says he believes the body-camera footage and a full investigation will eventually clear his client.