A Vallejo Police officer is on paid administrative leave after killing two people in less than a year, as police misconduct settlements are piling up in Vallejo.
In more innocent times, this blog employed a running joke we called Vallejo is Whack to denote an endless parade of ‘News of the Weird'-type stories that came out of the Solano County community. (Most notably the 2015 “Gone Girl” kidnapping which Vallejo PD falsely claimed the victim orchestrated herself, a conclusion based on their shoddy police work, only to make an arrest in the case months later.) But we have no snark for how the Vallejo Police Department’s errors are now so frequently trigger-happy police shootings, the most recent of which you’ll recall as the killing of kneeling and unarmed Sean Monterrosa, which looks even worse in light of evidence that Vallejo cops bent their badges to celebrate killing suspects.
The department’s most problematic case may be Officer Ryan McMahon, who is currently chilling on paid administrative leave after shooting two unarmed people in less than a year. The most recent was the February 2019 killing of Willie McCoy, whom officers shot 55 times whilst he was passed out behind the wheel of his car in a Taco Bell parking lot. Roughly 11 months prior, McMahon shot Ronell Foster (pictured above) for “riding a bike erratically without a headlamp,” and the Chronicle reports that the city of Vallejo has approved its largest-ever settlement of $5.7 million to Williams’ family.
We are not going to embed the very graphic bodycam video of Foster’s shooting, because it shows his bloodied head. But we’ll summarize it and say that Foster was indeed guilty of riding a bike without a light (big deal!), Officer McMahon gave chase in a police car, chased Foster into an alley, and tased and beat him with a flashlight upon catching him. Foster attempted to run, at which point the policeman shot him numerous times in the back, and in the back of the head. (The officer claims Foster presented a threat when he took control of the flashlight at one point.)
“There’s no amount of money that you can put on my son’s life,” Foster’s mother told the Chronicle. “That’s not gonna bring my son back. That’s not gonna give me no peace. And it’s sure not going to give me closure.”
The Vallejo Times Herald notes that the city is only on the hook for $500,000 of the $5.7 million “Under its memorandum of coverage with California Joint Powers Management Authority” municipal insurance agency. And maybe that’s the problem preventing real change — cities don’t feel the pinch of these giant settlements, and have little incentive for real police reform. Indeed, the Chronicle notes that “Since 2003, Vallejo and its municipal insurer have paid out more than $15 million to settle police misconduct lawsuits.”
Foster is survived by his two children, seen at the top of this post in photos courtesy the Law Offices of John Burris.
Image: Family photo via the Law Offices of John Burris