After the Solano County District Attorney recused herself last year, a special prosecutor was assigned to review the February 2019 officer-involved shooting case in Vallejo that left 20-year-old rapper Willie McCoy dead following 55 rounds that were shot into his car.
The case is one of dozens that have earned the Vallejo Police Department the distinction as one of the most trigger-happy in the region. McCoy fell asleep behind the wheel of his car while in a drive-through line at a Taco Bell in Vallejo two years ago. A worker at the restaurant called police, and arriving officers saw that McCoy, who was not initially responding to verbal commands, had a handgun in his lap. Six officers surrounded the vehicle, and when McCoy jolted awake, they claim he reached for the weapon and they fired 55 rounds into the car.
"It's an overkill. It's unnecessary," says Melissa Nold, an attorney representing McCoy's family. "A man who hasn't actually grabbed a weapon or opened fire on you, to continue to shoot until the person is just immeasurably deceased."
Now, as KTVU reports, the special prosecutor assigned to review the case, former San Bernardino County district attorney, concluded that the use of force was justified in the case of all six officers.
"As soon as the officers felt that there was no more threat, they stopped firing," Ramos said.
Whether there ever was a real threat remains an open question — but Ramos suggests that because the weapon was loaded (which officers could not have known) the threat was real.
One of the officers involved, Ryan McMahon, who had already been involved with the shooting death of Ronell Foster in 2018, was terminated by Vallejo police because they determined he acted recklessly in shooting McCoy while another officer was in the line of fire.
The Vallejo PD released a non-statement this week, in response to Ramos's decision, saying, "The death of Willie McCoy is a tragic loss of life. We continue to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. McCoy."
A civil suit is still pending, and Nold tells KTVU that she was "outraged" to learn that the report Ramos based his findings on was prepared at the behest of the city by a use-of-force expert who determined the 55 shots were all "reasonable."