Six police officers in Vallejo, California, are on administrative leave pending an investigation after they fatally shot a man moments after he woke up in the driver’s seat of his car in a Taco Bell drive-thru.
Family identified the man as Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old aspiring rapper, according to The Guardian.
The Vallejo Police Department and Solano County District Attorney’s Office say they have launched a “thorough and in-depth” investigation into the Saturday night shooting.
Police say they were called to the scene ― around 30 minutes northeast of San Francisco ― around 10:36 p.m. after an employee of the fast-food joint realized a customer behind the wheel of a silver Mercedes in the drive-thru lane was “slumped” over and motionless.
Two officers then arrived on the scene, according to the department. They reportedly noticed the driver was alone in the car with a handgun on his lap and called for backup. When two other officers arrived, the group attempted to open the door and quickly retrieve the gun, the department said, but the Mercedes was locked. Noticing the vehicle was also in drive, officers began positioning one patrol car at each bumper to prevent “erratic movement.”
With even more officers arriving on the scene, the man woke up. Police say they gave him “several commands to put his hands up,” but that he reached down toward his firearm instead. Six officers shot him “fearing for their safety,” the department said.
It was all over in about four seconds. The man was declared dead at the scene after lifesaving efforts failed.
Family members who spoke with The Guardian believed the officers’ response was unwarranted.
“There was no attempt to try to work out a peaceful solution,” Marc McCoy, Willie McCoy’s older brother, told the outlet. “The police’s job is to arrest people who are breaking the law ― not take the law into your own hands.”
“We’re never going to get over this,” he added.
“It’s a really big loss. Really, really unexpected,” a cousin, David Harrison, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s a lot of grieving going on, trying to make sense of this thing.”
The six officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation. Results of an autopsy, not yet available, will include how many times McCoy was hit by gunfire, as well as a toxicology report.
As The Guardian noted, the Taco Bell incident is just the latest in a series of recent violent confrontations between police and residents of the town. Last August, the Vallejo Police Department defended its officers’ actions after a video circulated online showing one officer straddling a man on the ground while a second officer strikes him with a flashlight.
According to the Chronicle, Saturday’s shooting was the third time in recent years that Bay Area police shot an armed man after trying to wake him up.