Relatives of 20-year-old Willie McCoy, also known as rapper Willie Bo, are demanding answers after six Vallejo police officers shot and killed McCoy while he slept in his car in a Taco Bell parking lot.
McCoy, who had been recording recently, was on tour with his group, FBG. The second youngest of five children, McCoy lost his parents to cancer and was raised by his cousins and sister.
Vallejo police were called to the parking lot shortly after 10:30 after employees reported a driver slumped over in a car at the drive-thru. Police allege that two officers noticed a gun on McCoy’s lap before calling for backup.
With McCoy’s door locked, officers decided to hold their position without moving the car, which officers allege was still in drive. While a second car was being placed behind McCoy’s to “prevent forward or erratic movement” according to police, McCoy woke up.
Vallejo police allege McCoy was given several commands to put his hands up but failed to do so, moving his hands toward the gun. Officers, who allegedly feared for their safety, shot McCoy. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
In a press release, Vallejo police said that the six officers fired multiple rounds at the driver in a matter of seconds. Though it remains unclear how many times McCoy was hit, witnesses and family members believe McCoy’s car was hit by at least 20 shots.
While the Vallejo Police Department works with the Solano County District Attorney’s office to investigate the shooting, McCoy’s family waits for answers.
“It seems like an execution,” said David Harrison, McCoy’s cousin and manager, who says he never knew McCoy to carry a gun. “It looks like my baby cousin was executed by a firing squad.”
While officials declined to comment on the release of video of the incident and issues surrounding protocol, VPD Chief Andrew Bidou told reports that the investigation was in its early stages, adding “any loss of life is a tragedy.”
Harrison derided the course of action taken by the officers. “I don’t think he even had time to react,” Harrison said. “If you’re just waking up from sleep, you don’t know what you have around you and who’s talking to you.” Harrison told NBC that officers could have been more strategic and used a loudspeaker to wake McCoy.
Vallejo, a suburb of San Francisco, has paid more money per officer in civil rights cases than other nearby departments, according to a report by the East Bay Express. Last August, Vallejo police defended the use of force after video showed an officer holding and beating a man outside of a restaurant. In January, an officer was seen tackling and handcuffing a black Marine veteran.
“He was always talking about being able to escape in his music because a lot of experience living in the Bay Area is police brutality and racial profiling,” Harrison said of his cousin. “It’s tragic that Willie didn’t escape it himself.”