NOTE: The original version of this story first appeared on Blue Lives Matter on Saturday. Shortly after the article was posted, Facebook stopped distributing it even though 1/4 of the people who saw it were engaging with it. We are attempting to determine if this was caused by the algorithm or a manual decision.
Vallejo, CA – The family of an aspiring rapper who reached for a stolen gun during an encounter with police in a Taco Bell drive-thru last Saturday night said that the man did nothing wrong, and that police had no reason to fire their weapons at him.
None of them were present during the shooting.
Willie McCoy, a 21-year-old rapper who goes by the name “Willie Bo,” was found slumped over his silver Mercedes in the fast-food restaurant parking lot by an employee at approximately 10:30 p.m., the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The Taco Bell worker called Vallejo police, who responded to the scene and tried to make contact with McCoy.
“Alright, car is locked, he is passed out. But the car is in drive. We need another unit,” one of the officers said over the radio, according to KGO.
Police said that McCoy also had a loaded handgun sitting in his lap.
When McCoy began to stir, the officers ordered him to keep his hands where they could see them.
“The driver quickly reached for the handgun on his lap,” the department told KGO in a statement. “In fear for their own safety, the officers discharged their weapons at the driver.”
Six officers discharged their weapons, firing an unknown number of rounds during the four seconds that followed, according to The Guardian.
McCoy was pronounced dead at the scene, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“A loaded handgun was recovered from the vehicle,” the department said, according to KGO.
Investigators confirmed that the semiautomatic handgun in his lap was fully operational, and that it had been reported as stolen in Oregon, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The .40-caliber weapon was also equipped with an extended magazine, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Solano County Fatal Incident Protocol team is handling the ongoing investigation, KGO reported.
Taco Bell Corporation said it was “shocked and saddened” to hear about the officer-involved shooting, according to FOX News.
“The owner and operator of this location is working with the local authorities in their investigation and has offered counseling services to all team members present,” the company said. “Our thoughts are with the Vallejo community in this difficult time.”
McCoy’s brother, Marc McCoy, said that the officers should not have used deadly force during the encounter, and that the only thing McCoy was guilty of was being exhausted from all the touring he has been doing, KGO reported.
Marc, who admitted that McCoy has been arrested in the past, said the officers overreacted and should have expected McCoy to make sudden movements when he woke up.
“Then wake him up outta sleep!” Marc said. “Come on. If you wake up out your sleep, you’re gonna do any kinda movement or, you know, just to wake up or whatever. That can be a threatening movement just waking up to these scary police out here.”
Marc said that the officers should have attempted to de-escalate the situation.
“There was no attempt to try to work out a peaceful solution,” he told The Guardian. “The police’s job is to arrest people who are breaking the law – not take the law into your own hands. You’re not judge, jury and executioner.”
“I’m outraged! This community is outraged!” McCoy’s cousin, David Harrison, told KGO. “He’s not robbing Taco Bell. He is in the drive-thru trying to get something to eat!”
Harrison alleged that the officers “profiled” and “targeted” McCoy.
“No one trusts the police in Vallejo,” he told The Guardian. “We are being targeted…Police 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 also posted a video to Facebook after the shooting, warning children in the neighborhood about the danger of law enforcement officers.
“Police is not your f–king friend,” he said in the video. “They’re not there to serve and protect. They here to control and patrol, man. They wanna control you.”
Harrison then rose to his feet, and blew mucus out of his nose onto the sidewalk, the video showed.
He urged young people to listen to their parents, and said they were trying to prevent them from being killed by police. He also told parents not to “provoke” their kids.
Marc said that the officers shot McCoy due to a lack of respect for black people, The Guardian reported.
“Police are trained to shoot first and hurt you first,” he declared. “They do not respect black people. Even when they have a person subdued and their life is not in danger, they continue to be blatantly physically disrespectful. That is just accepted in America.”
McCoy’s family said they are planning on opening their own investigation into the officer-involved shooting, according to KGO.
“It’s a really big loss. Really, really unexpected,” Harrison told the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s a lot of grieving going on, trying to make sense of this thing.”
The family wants the officers involved in the altercation to be criminally charged, The Guardian reported.
“We cannot fathom why they would have to shoot him. This was senseless…shooting a man sleeping in his car,” Harrison railed. “We want to make sure this never happens again to another person.”
“It’s going to continue to happen until we make these mother–kers pay!” he said in the Facebook video. “They gotta pay for this s–t. This s–t ain’t free. Can’t just keep killin’ us in the street like this.”
“We at war,” he declared. “It’s these mother–kin’ pigs is your f–kin’ enemy!”
Many news outlets, such as NowThis News, posted blatantly false claims that McCoy was shot while he was sleeping. Other news outlets used true but misleading headlines that he was shot after he was found sleeping without mentioning that he was also shot after waking up and reaching for a stolen gun. Other news stations reported he was sleeping in his car without offering any timeline.