It was late evening Feb. 9 when local African-American rapper Willie McCoy, 20, drove into a Taco Bell drive-through in Vallejo, Calif., a small river city about 30 miles from San Francisco. A few minutes later he was found “slumped over the steering wheel of his car, unconscious,” according to a claim filed against the city by McCoy’s family. McCoy performed rap music under the name “Willie Bo.”
The wrongful death claim, filed as a precursor to a lawsuit, said police arrived and “unleashed a barrage of gunfire on the young man. The six-person firing squad shot Mr. McCoy approximately 25 times,” striking him in the head, ear, neck, chest, arms, shoulders, hands and back. Police later claimed they saw a handgun next to the sleeping McCoy.
“They shot him to pieces,” civil rights attorney John Burris told a press conference and rally of 50 who showed up to support the family on the steps of City Hall Feb. 27. “Something is rotten in the Vallejo police department,” including a “lack of concern and lack of caring for human life.” The community has also mourned Vallejo police killings of Angel Rico Ramos, Ronell Foster and Mario Romero in recent years.
McCoy’s sister, Simone Richard, was unsparing in denouncing the Vallejo Police Department. “You all executed my brother Willie. It is kids today they are killing. They say the kids are the future, but you aren’t letting us grow. You are targeting us. This isn’t the first incident. This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last time.”
A cousin of McCoy’s read a poem she had written, recalling the history of lynching in the U.S.: “Now they shoot at us. If we get pulled over we might not make it ‘til tomorrow. Is this their way of population control?”
A friend said, “My friend was shot over 25 times — for no reason. They came out like they was prepared to kill him. They came out to create a situation that will leave our hearts broken for eternity.” Several teenage girls chanted, “Indict! Convict! Send these killer cops to jail!”