California rapper Willie McCoy was killed when as many as six police officers opened fire at the 20-year-old after waking him up while sleeping in the front seat of his car in a Taco Bell parking lot, the Guardian reports. Officers fired on McCoy out of fear for their safety, they said, reporting that McCoy had a handgun in his possession at the time of the incident.
McCoy’s family say that the Vallejo, California, officers racially profiled the young rapper, claiming that there was no need to respond with deadly force in an interaction that began with a sleeping man.
“There was no attempt to try to work out a peaceful solution,” said older brother Marc McCoy. “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. We’re never going to get over this.”
A Taco Bell employee had called the police after noticing McCoy, who goes by “Willie Bo” musically, had gone to sleep behind the wheel of his parked car outside the restaurant Saturday around 10:30 p.m. The car was running with its doors locked and McCoy had a handgun resting on his lap as he slept.
Listen to dispatch audio from the shooting of Willie McCoy, whom Vallejo police say was unconscious in his car with a gun in his lap at a Taco Bell drive-thru. McCoy was shot by police as they attempted to wake him up, police said.https://t.co/lLveJMAn2v pic.twitter.com/1znPHXp0B7— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) February 13, 2019
After arriving, police saw the weapon and requested additional officers for backup. After the call, officers report that McCoy moved suddenly, resulting in all six officers present reportedly firing their guns at him, causing the injuries that would lead to his death shortly after.
Officers say that they ordered McCoy to keep his hands visible and that his hands moved quickly in the direction of his own weapon. The six officers, according to police, all fired within about four seconds.
After issuing further instructions to an unresponsive McCoy, police removed him from his vehicle and began administering first aid. He died from his injuries at the scene. The number of bullets that made contact has not been disclosed and an autopsy is forthcoming.
McCoy’s family allege that he would have had no intent to threaten or harm any officer and that any sudden movements he may have made were probably the result of being startled awake after falling asleep in his vehicle.
The victim’s older brother, Marc McCoy, said that there were better ways for the police to have handled the situation and said that race was a factor in his brother’s killing.
“Police are trained to shoot first and hurt you first,” the older McCoy said. “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.”