Vallejo Police To Face Suit In Shooting Death Of Sleeping Rapper

The 20-year-old aspiring rapper was shot multiple times by police who found him sleeping in his car.

The family of a 20-year-old black man shot dead by officers in Vallejo, California, last month have filed a wrongful death claim against the city’s police department.

A complaint filed Thursday by civil rights attorney John Burris on the family’s behalf alleges the Vallejo Police Department “bungled from start to finish” its handling of Willie McCoy’s shooting death. The claim is a precursor to a lawsuit the family plans to file, Burris said, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

“The claim is under review,” Joanna Altman, a city spokeswoman, said in a statement to HuffPost. “The City will investigate and make a determination within 45 days of receipt of the claim.” 

On Feb. 9, six police officers found McCoy sleeping in his car in a Taco Bell drive-thru. Police said McCoy had a handgun in his lap, and they opened fire when he woke up and allegedly reached for the weapon.

A coroner’s report has yet to be released, but another attorney for McCoy’s family said the young man was struck by about 25 bullets.

The aspiring rapper, who went by the stage name of Willie Bo, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“They had time, the boy was asleep — they didn’t have to rush the car,” Burris said Thursday in front of Vallejo’s City Hall, according to the Chronicle.

Simone Richard, McCoy’s sister, joined Burris along with dozens of other relatives, friends and supporters. Richard called her brother’s death an “execution.”

“Y’all just never gave him a chance, and that’s just not fair,” Richard said, according to the Chronicle.

David Harrison, McCoy’s cousin, accused Vallejo police of racial profiling.

“Police [in Vallejo] have a campaign of executing young black men who fit a certain profile. Willie dressed the part. He represents hip-hop music. They are profiled,” Harrison told The Guardian.

The police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The six officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation, the department said last month. The officers were thereafter “deemed able to return to their regular duties,” according to the city’s website.

Vallejo’s police department has received multiple allegations of police brutality and racial profiling in recent months. Adrian Burrell, a black Marine veteran accused a Vallejo officer last month of assaulting him for using his cell phone to film the arrest of his cousin. Burris on Thursday announced a separate claim accusing the city of unlawfully detaining Burrell over the incident.

Last June, the department agreed to a $17,500 settlement in a racial profiling case brought by a man who claimed he was falsely arrested and subjected to excessive force by two police officers.   

The department in August defended its officers’ actions after a video circulated online allegedly showing one officer straddling a man on the ground while a second officer strikes him with a flashlight.

McCoy’s killing was the third time in recent years that Bay Area police shot an armed man after trying to wake him up, according to the Chronicle.