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Editor’s note: This podcast uses audio recordings of a police killing and may not be suitable for all listeners.
The Vallejo Police Department, including its spokesperson and the officers and detectives involved in this case, did not respond to requests for comment.
On February 9th, 2019, the manager of the Taco Bell on Admiral Callaghan Lane in Vallejo, California, called police to report that a car with darkly tinted windows was parked in the restaurant’s drive-thru.
Dispatch: Four Paul Five… welfare check at the Taco Bell at 974 Admiral Callaghan… a silver Mercedes, unknown license plate with a driver slumped over at the wheel.
Officer Mark Thompson, badge number 621, was one of the first officers to arrive. He was working Four David Three: Four, meaning he was working alone, David for dog because he was a K9 handler, and three meant beat three. He radioed that he wanted another car to go through the drive-thru in the opposite direction to keep the Mercedes from moving if the driver woke up.
That night, Four Paul Five — Paul for patrol — was Officer Anthony Cano, badge number 714. He’d been with the Vallejo Police Department for about 10 months. Before that, he was in the Air Force for eight years, serving as a military police officer and a dog handler.
Officer Jordan Patzer, badge number 713, was another former military member who had been with the Vallejo Police Department for about 10 months. That night Patzer was working as Four Paul Six and responded to the call with Cano.
Patzer: Four Paul Six, I’ve got a plate.
Dispatch: Four Paul Six, go ahead
Gun already drawn, Patzer radioed out the Mercedes’ license plate, which was registered to a man named Willie McCoy.
Dispatch: Four Paul Six, RO is clear and valid. It'll be a Willie McCoy.
McCoy, a Vallejo native, was known to some in the department because he was in a Vallejo police youth program as a kid. By 20 years old, he was an up-and-coming rapper known as Willie Bo and living in Suisun City.
Soon, Cano shined his flashlight into McCoy’s car and told Patzer to alert officers that there’s a gun on his lap.
Cano: Gun. Gun. Call it out.
Cano: There’s a gun in his lap. I’m going to bust that fucking window. See it? Door looks open. I’m going to pull him out and snatch his ass.
Within about four minutes of arriving, six Vallejo police officers — Anthony Cano, Jordan Patzer, Colin Eaton, Bryan Glick, Mark Thompson and Ryan McMahon — fired 55 bullets into the silver Mercedes, killing McCoy. The shooting was so destructive that their own department’s internal affairs investigators found that it created so much smoke and debris that it was reasonable to assume the driver was firing back, even though he did not.
Hours later, those officers would tell internal affairs investigators that the presence of the gun made them fear for their lives, but they didn’t do anything to distance themselves from it. Instead, they gathered closely around the driver’s side window and the windshield with their guns fixed on McCoy.
Attorneys representing McCoy’s family have described the police killing as an execution, but the Vallejo Police Department and a special prosecutor hired by the Solano County District Attorney’s office have determined it was both reasonable and legal. Only one officer involved in the shooting lost his job.
ABC7: Vallejo’s police chief has fired… neglect for basic firearm safety.
Despite several investigations being concluded, there are still lingering questions, including why police didn’t try to enter the vehicle through the passenger side where the glass was gone and covered by plastic, despite them telling internal affairs otherwise.
Patzer: So at that point, I began to fire my weapon towards him in order to stop the threat. I wasn't trying to injure him, per se, but I needed the threat to stop. And the only way that was feasible at that time because he was in a vehicle, all windows rolled up, you know, no other options was going to stop that threat as immediate as it was. Other than my firearm.
My name is Brian Krans. I’m a reporter with the Vallejo Sun. In this podcast, for the first time, we’re going to hear the interviews of the officers involved in the police killing of Willie McCoy, as Vallejo police investigated yet another of their violent interactions with the public, followed by surface-level questioning with little pushback…
Adante Pointer: There's an inherent conflict and it plays out when you have co-workers, interviewing other co-workers on an incident that could wind up that co-worker losing their job or their liberty.
…as yet another family waits for accountability and the truth to come out.
Kori McCoy: We are trying to bring attention to the powers that be that what is going on in Vallejo California is an ongoing criminal enterprise and we need a federal monitor to come in and weed out this corruption. We have a whole lot of swamp draining to do in the city of Vallejo, California and it starts at the top, starting with the district attorney.
DISP (5:22): minutes returning to Willie McCoy and he is clear…
Detective Rose: We don't have any more questions
[AUDIO INTRO]: …let’s keep this momentum going (drums).
The 2019 police killing of Willie McCoy was national news and many people’s introduction to the Vallejo Police Department.
Newscaster 1: New details now about the investigation underway after a Vallejo police officer fatally shot a man who was sitting in his car at a drive thru at a Taco Bell.
Newscaster 2:Yeah, police say that the driver reached for a gun but new tonight. We're hearing from the victim's family. They aren't buying the officers version of the story
Newscaster 3: Today, a press conference calling on the State Attorney General to investigate the Vallejo police department.
Newscaster 4: And this move comes in the wake of multiple police misconduct lawsuits and two deadly police shootings allegedly at the hands of the same officer
Vallejo police have had the highest rates of police shootings in the Bay Area for the better part of a decade and, until 2021, hadn’t gone a year without shooting someone.
The Police Scorecard ranks police departments all over the country using metrics that gauge issues like funding, accountability, approach to policing and police violence, including police killings, Vallejo ranked 163rd out of 176 California police departments that they graded.
Its lowest scores were in police violence and accountability.
A federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of Willie McCoy’s family is hoping to change that by asking a judge to place the department under court receivership, alleging a pattern and practice of civil rights violations. Just last year, a judge overseeing the case ruled that an allegation that the officers conspired to harm McCoy can remain in the suit.
Adante Pointer is one of the civil rights attorneys representing the McCoy family in their lawsuit. He says issues endemic in the Vallejo Police Department were evident in the killing of Willie McCoy.
Pointer: If you look at it as isolated, kind of in one silo, then you're looking at what happened here. And that still arrives that this is a bad shoot. But when you put it into the larger context of all the bad actors, all the bad behavior over the years, and then you look at the people who were involved in the shooting death of Willie McCoy, you start understanding that there's either explicit and or tacit agreements, and understandings, to violate people's rights.
Dispatch: Mercedes… last of McCoy, out of Suisun.
Around 10:30 p.m. on February 9th, 2019, a woman was Facetiming with her boyfriend behind a silver Mercedes in the Vallejo Taco Bell drive-thru. She would soon tell investigators she saw officers with their guns out immediately upon arriving.
Witness: They immediately, even when the first two cops got there by themselves, they didn't shine a flashlight. Like, it was immediately like, gun flashlight. So I don't know if they ran the plates and they knew who this guy was but like it was on scene like, because I even said to my boyfriend. I was like, they have a gun like they're already in. He was already? Like, I don't understand.
Soon, Officer Jordon Patzer radioed out a Code 33, which signifies an emergency and alerts others to keep the radio channel clear.
Patzer: Four Paul Six. Code 33. Driver's got a gun in his lap.
Dispatch: Copy Code 33, Admiral Callahan Taco Bell
Patzer: Four Paul Six. Driver's still unconscious, got a gun on his lap. We're going to try and wake him up.
[Body camera fade up]
Patzer’s body camera video shows he walked over to the other side of the Mercedes, showing that the passenger window was missing and covered with a piece of clear plastic.
Patzer: Back seat’s clear.
He does not, however, mention that it could give him or other officers a way into the car, as all other windows were up and the doors were locked.
Here’s attorney Adante Pointer again.
Pointer: And so the officers completely ignored all of that. And instead, we're using my term hell-bent on making a physical confrontation between themselves and Mr. McCoy. Knowing that you know, they had five guns to the reported one that he had on his lap.
By then Officer Mark Thompson arrived. Flashlights beaming into the car, Cano says the driver is not responsive and has a gun in his lap.
Thompson: This unlocked?
His body camera recording, Thompson tells Cano…
Thompson: I’m going to go in and grab that gun.
Cano: And I’ll yank him out.
Thompson: If he reaches for it, you know what to do.
Thompson: This car is in drive.
Thompson radioed for more help, as he was concerned about the Mercedes moving forward because it was still in drive and McCoy’s foot was on the brake.
Thompson: Car's locked. He's passed out but the car's in drive. We need another unit to start this way and then park their patrol vehicle in front of his car.
Officers Ryan McMahon and Collin Eaton — badge numbers 702 and 703, respectively — were on a shots-fired call on the other side of town but soon were on their way.
Dispatch: Paul 4 and Paul 7 …Taco Bell.
More officers began responding to the Taco Bell, including Officer Bryan Glick, badge number 672. He had been a police officer in Oakland for two years before making a lateral transfer to Vallejo in 2014. On February 9th, 2019, he was working as Four Paul 1 and responded from Kaiser Vallejo when the Code 33 came over the radio.
Glick: I didn't put myself en route over the radio or over the computer. I just started going.
Glick: I just started going.
Patzer again stressed that he needed someone to drive their squad car the wrong way through the drive-thru to secure McCoy’s car from the front.
Patzer: For the units coming in 97 go in backwards through the drive thru block This guy is still in drive.
That’s when Glick announced his arrival.
Glick: [interference] Four Paul 1. I got it.
Glick parked nose-to-nose with McCoy’s car as more officers surrounded it. Here’s Glick explaining to investigators what he observed when he arrived and what unfolded just seconds later.
Glick: At that time, I got out, I saw there was a single occupant of the vehicle, appeared to be sleeping. At some point, open his eyes, looked around, looked forward and looked to the side. And there's numerous officers standing there and we began giving him commands to put his hands up, show us your hands.
Glick pointed his personal weapon, a 9-millimeter SIG Sauer P 226 Legion SAO…
Glick: And I can see that he was not complying, he wouldn't put his hands up. And from my view, I was looking straight into the windshield offset to his passenger side a little bit. And I could see both of his hands were underneath, looked to be in his lap area beneath the steering wheel. And I could see his shoulders and upper arms begin moving as he was looking around at all of us. So seeing that he wasn't complying saw that we were police officers knowing that he had a firearm in his lap, and he appeared to be manipulating that firearm. I believe that he was preparing to shoot at us. So I opened fire probably about the same time the other officers opened fire.
With a total of 75 rounds in four magazines, with one in the chamber, Glick told investigators he fired between five and seven times, but it was actually 11 times. Cano also fired 11 times, according to a report from a special prosecutor appointed to look over the case.
Officer Eaton fired more rounds than any other officer with his personal Sig Sauer P-320 RX.
Eaton: At that point when he did not do as we were telling him to do when he reached down towards the weapon I decided to take deadly force.
Rose: And what do you mean by that?
Eaton: I fired my handgun at him.
Rose: You know how many rounds?
Eaton: I believed at the time it was anywhere from five to six. But I wasn't counting
Rose: Do you know how many rounds you fired now?
Eaton: After the evidence tech did the ammo count, I believe it was 14
The official report from consultant Michael Ramos says Officer Colin Eaton only fired 13 rounds, not 14.
Patzer told department investigators that initially he thought he fired half the times he actually did. He learned the real number when his gun was taken into evidence.
Caitham: Do you have an idea about how many shots you fired?
Patzer: I thought I fired six, but the total was 12.
Caitham: Okay, okay.
All told, with 92 available rounds in their handguns, the six Vallejo police officers fired 55 times, hitting McCoy with 38 bullets. An autopsy concluded that 13 of those gunshot wounds to his chest were fatal.
As we hear Vallejo police describe how they viewed Willie McCoy’s actions just before they fired more than fifty rounds into his car, it’s important to know how quickly those events unfolded.
Here is audio from officers’ body cameras from when McCoy first stirred to when they stopped firing.
Officers: Hands!... [55 shots]... Cease fire!
Adante Pointer says Vallejo police failed to follow basic police training, like not putting themselves in unnecessary danger by crowding around the car when they were supposedly worried about being a target.
Pointer: From beginning to end, it’s just bad police tactics, and then bad police conduct, you know. The officers are trained to back away, give time and space, you know, either if you're gonna like to wake the person up out of their sleep, and you certainly would would place yourself behind some type of object to put something between you and the person who you think has a gun, you know, you don't get closer to the gun, you know, you set a boundary up, you can let the person if you want to wake them up, use the bullhorn, use the honking of the horns of the car, use lights, you know, you can even use a beanbag to to hit the window and things but they just essentially ignored all of those options, and went to the nuclear option.
[Start of investigative interview tape]
Rose: Just so you're aware all officer-involved shootings get reviewed by the district attorney. I'm going to put this in the evidence so if you could sign your name and put your badge number on that.
The interviews done after a police killing in Vallejo follow a similar script. They are conducted hours after the shooting…
Long: February 10. I have 06 14 hours.
…Vallejo detectives are in charge of doing the interviews…
Long: Detective Craig Long.
Yates: Scott Yates.
…with an investigator with the district attorney’s office present…
Dillion: Aaron Dillon, DA's office.
…and an attorney provided by the Vallejo Police Officers Association… who gets to set some of the parameters of the questioning…
Buffington: Justin Buffington, attorney with Rains Lucia Stern on behalf of Officer McMahon. He's here voluntarily. And I want to record that this is being audio recorded only based upon my strenuous objection and request.
The investigators, who are members of the same union as the officers they are investigating, then go through a list of basic questions, like the officer’s badge number, his hire date, and any prior law enforcement experience.
Mark Thompson had one of the most diversified resumes of anyone who shot at Willie McCoy.
Thompson: worked for the Solano County Sheriff's Office as a deputy. Prior to that, I worked for the California Department of Corrections as a correctional officer. And then I was a military police officer for the Army Reserve.
Vallejo detectives then follow a checklist, including what the officers were wearing, if the flashing lights on their cars were working, and what type of weapon they carry while on duty, eventually getting the officer to explain the events in question.
Thompson: I proceeded to where the suspect vehicle was. And that time I noticed Officer Cano and Officer Patzer were standing on the driver's side of the suspect vehicle with their weapons drawn. Okay.
Thompson tells Vallejo detectives Yates and Long that he came around from the passenger side of the Mercedes to the driver’s side to join officers Cano and Patzer.
Thompson: And then from there, the plan was I was basically going to try to quietly open the door because he's sleeping, and I was just gonna reach in and take the gun.
But they couldn’t get in the drivers’ side door because it was locked. No one mentions going through the passenger side which… again… had clear plastic covering where glass should’ve been.
Yates: He wakes up on his own. He reaches towards his lap where the weapon is?
Yates: Then what happens?
Thompson: I thought he was going for his firearm to use it against us. The next thing I know we're all discharging our firearms.
Thompson: I started to backpedal.
Thompson: I didn't want to be, where I was standing, I was literally at the driver's window. Alright, driver side window. We're basically face to face, and I didn't want to be right there and get shot at.
Thompson:” So I started backpedaling. So then as I was backpedaling, I shot.
Still huddled closely around the car, putting themselves in the danger they later cited to justify the shooting, six officers spent only about two seconds shouting commands at McCoy before putting 38 bullets into his body in a span of three and a half seconds.
After just seconds of radio silence, officers radio out that shots had been fired.
Officer: Shots fired. Shots fired! (Radio chatter) Let’s see your hands!
Too many officers were on the radio at the same time, so the dispatcher had to tell them to stop.
Dispatch: Units are covering. You're unreadable.
Officer: Code three medic. All officers are okay. he's moving is not responsive. Show me your hands!
Here’s Officer Colin Eaton explaining the aftermath to investigators… including the hole left in the driver side window that officers created.
Eaton: I distinctly recall there being a fist sized hole in the driver of the lower driver’s side window. I can clearly recall seeing the door lock through that hole. And I remember seeing that there's something flapping in the wind. I initially didn't know what it was. It turns out it's the window tint… There was a strip of the windshield that was on damage towards the top and it was trying to get his hands up towards there. At that point I couldn't see if he was still attempting to manipulate the handgun or do anything else I believe was Officer Thompson that actually reached through that hole that I mentioned and unlocked the door and then opened the door.
[BODY CAM AMBI]
Officers pulled McCoy out of the car and handcuffed him behind his back on the wet pavement. Their attempts to dress McCoy’s wounds were futile.
Officer: Doing CPR
Meanwhile, Officer Bryan Glick gathered up witnesses before being called over by then-Sergeant and now-Lieutenant Steve Darden… who had been involved in four fatal shootings himself. He rounded up the officers who had fired… calling them actors.
Darden: So all you guys are actors. We have one… six. You okay?
Glick: Yes, Sergeant.
Darden: What I want to do is…
That’s when Glick remembered his body camera was still recording and promptly turned it off.
McMahon asked Darden if he should turn his off, too. Darden said he should.
Hours later, with an attorney provided by their union present, the six Vallejo police officers gave individual statements as to their version of events, assuring investigators they hadn’t discussed the shooting with anyone else or reviewed any footage.
Jordan Patzer, one of the first officers on the scene, however, told investigators he did review his body camera footage prior to the interview.
Caitham: And did you review that before this interview?
Here’s Patzer explaining his reasoning for opening fire.
Patzer: So at that point, I began to fire my weapon towards him in order to stop the threat. I wasn't trying to injure him per se, but I needed the threat to stop. And the only way that was feasible at that time because he was in a vehicle with all windows rolled up, you know, no other options was going to stop that threat as immediate as it was. Other than my firearm.
A few minutes later, Detective Josh Caitham asks Patzer about the level of force he used…
Caitham: And let me ask you, at the time of the shooting, do you feel there's any other force options you could have used that would have been effective?
Patzer: No, because he was in a vehicle with a firearm, which is lethal force and able to cause death, great bodily injury, and the windows were up. So there was no option of using a taser or OC or an impact weapon. There was no other force option available. We couldn't, you know, grab them or try to throw them in the vehicle. We can't get in the vehicle. Because it was locked.
Caitham: The windows are up?
Caitham: And all the doors are closed.
Again, Patzer’s body camera shows him going to the side of the car where there was no glass in the passenger window. None of the investigators asked about the passenger window and none of the officers mentioned anything about it.
Eaton: I am Officer Eaton, Vallejo Police Department.
Rose: Officer Eaton, what’s your first name?
Eaton: Colin. C-O-L-I-N.
Officer Colin Eaton joined the Vallejo police department 18 months before firing 13 times at Willie McCoy. He had no other prior experience as a police officer, but he told investigators he served about eight and a half years in the Marine Corps.
Eaton: I was an aviation mechanic.
Eaton told investigators that when he arrived at the Taco Bell, Cano, Patzer and Thompson all had their guns pointed at McCoy. He allegedly saw McCoy wake and reach down, fully expecting him to come up shooting, because he was surrounded by police.
Eaton: As I was looking at the individual in the car, I saw his hand come up with start scratching, which was the first movement that I had seen him make…
We told him to show us his hands and he failed to comply. He immediately started waking up, he started looking around…
That was when I decided that his motions towards that handgun constituted a very real deadly threat towards myself and other officers and I decided to fire.
Rose: Why’d you stop firing?
Eaton: I could no longer perceive a threat at that point.
Eaton even told Detective Rose that because the windows were allegedly up that it left him with fewer options.
Rose: Do you think you had any other appropriate force options that you could have taken?
Eaton: The doors are locked. Windows are up. I, no.
Pointer, the attorney representing McCoy’s family, says the interviews with Vallejo police detectives after the shooting serve only to cover their asses.
Pointer: This is certainly a CYA exercise. There is no question, if ands or buts about it in my mind. These are officers, and we see this frequently, but for these group officers, you want to make the threat larger than life. You want it to seem like death was imminent, danger was in the air. This person was essentially a wild animal. We don't know what they're going to do, other than do wild things. And because of that, we have to respond with maximum force and put that person down. And that's the way they proceeded and if you watch and listen to the videos, a decision was made early on not to give him a chance and to shoot him if he just moves.
Like others, Patzer shared his safety concerns with Detective Caitham.
Patzer: I felt there was an immediate, deadly threat that he was causing, because the gun’s already facing that way. He's already grabbing it, you know, he made it. I got scared that he was going to, you know, kill one of my officers and kill me.
After firing what thought was six rounds but was actually 12, Patzer said he felt safe again.
Patzer: I looked into the vehicle and could see the gun on the floorboard. So that was what made me feel he was safe. You know, he doesn't have the gun anymore.
Caitham: And in your mind. You mentioned that he reached down and then began to come up. And what did you think he was coming up with?
Patzer: My immediate thought is he's coming up with that gun.
Caitham: What do you think he's going to do?
Patzer: I thought he was going to use it primarily against the officers to his left, since that's where the muzzle was facing. But I sincerely believe that he was going to use it against us.
Caitham: And how'd that make you feel?
Patzer: Fearful, I was not only fearful for myself, I was fearful for the officers that were a lot closer than I to him. And that already had the gun facing in their direction.
Caitham: And is that the reason you took the action you took?
Patzer: It is. I felt if I didn't do what I did immediately, that he was going to do the same thing towards officers and create a deadly situation towards us.
There are some key terms and phrases being used during the interviews besides “immediate deadly threat” and “deadly situation.”
Here’s Adante Pointer again.
Pointer: The quality and the nature of the interviews to me, they were softball questions. They were leading questions in that the questions directed the officers in terms of what to say, and what not to say. And if things were left out that the interviewer thought would help justify shooting, and the use of force, the interviewer either circled back or included it in the question.
One example of that is Detective Craig Long asking Officer Thompson about his use of force… in some very specific, legal language.
Long: This may sound silly to you and I don't mean to be funny at all. But why were you concerned about the suspect possibly shooting you and your colleagues?
Thompson: Because I want to go home at the end of the day. And I want to make sure that my co workers go home to their families
Long: You were concerned that the guy could cause death or serious bodily injury?
Long: Those are the questions I have.
Pointer: It's not the type of aggressive interrogation or interview that you would expect, given what was at stake here. It's under the title a homicide investigation, when in actuality it was a murder investigation. But, you know, that's not the tone or tenor that you got.
You did not get the sense that the investigator was really trying to get the cold hard facts and listening to each officer to see if their stories lined up. You do not get that sense.
Ryan McMahon was no rookie officer when he joined the Vallejo Police Department in July 2017. He started as a police officer in Sausalito in 2010… and Central Marin five years later… and even was a certified firearms instructor.
Newscaster: ...the 2019 shooting deaths of Willie McCoy and the 2018 shooting death of Ronell Foster involved the same officer...
Not more than seven months after being hired to be a police officer in Vallejo, on February 13th, 2018, McMahon would chase, beat, tase and shoot Ronell Foster, in the back and the back of the head, for riding his bike at night without a light.
McMahon: Shots fired, 415 Carolina street
As KTVU TV first reported, McMahon would later testify, during a deposition for a lawsuit brought by Ronell Foster’s family that the department’s investigation into the killing only included his initial statements, but no follow-up from investigators with his department, nor from the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.
McMahon: Nobody ever talked to me like a chief or anything about a report or anything like that or administrative review. Okay. Is that what you're asking? Was there a critical incident debrief? Not for not not for this one no.
To Pointer, who also represented Foster’s family, the lack of rigorous questioning or meaningful follow-up says something about how seriously they take those investigations.
Pointer: They're cooking the case, man. They, the senior, those people who are asking the questions tend to be senior officers themselves. They've either themselves been through, you know, involved in whatever way whether it's investigating or their friend, coworker, and shooting cases. They said in court, they work with the DA’s office, so they know the different elements, the buzz words and phrases that need to be said, in order to justify bad conduct. And that's, you know, what I feel like many of them, do they shade or direct nudge and mold the story in such a way to where, you know, if you're a district attorney, you have what you need in order to just say, we're not going to you know, we're fine. You know, this was justifiable, because the dirty little secret is, you know, the District Attorney's Office, even though they say after shooting takes place like ‘oh, there's three investigations taking place.’ No, there's not. There's one investigation, which is through the police department, their homicide division.
The city of Vallejo settled the lawsuit brought on behalf of Foster’s family for five-point-seven million dollars, the largest civil rights payout in the city's history to date.
But the police department found that McMahon was within department policy and the Solano County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute him.
Less than a year after he killed Foster, McMahon responded to the Taco Bell on Admiral Callahan.
When McMahon arrived, Officer Bryan Glick had already blocked in McCoy’s Mercedes. Parking behind him, McMahon warned Taco Bell employees that the “potential for this to go bad is really high.”
McMahon: Go inside [Hands…]
That’s when he heard his fellow officers begin yelling… and then firing. McMahon pulled his gun and ran over. The number of Vallejo police bullets entering McCoy’s drivers-side window and windshield eviscerated the auto glass… making McMahon falsely believe the person in the car was firing back.
McMahon: Once I got to the rear of Officer Glick’s patrol vehicle, I heard shots being fired, I heard multiple rounds being shot. At that time, I believe that the suspect was armed. The officers had issued commands and they were continually issuing commands and that something had happened we're now there's an active gunfight.
McMahon: And with the multiple rounds that were being fired, I saw glass. It might sound weird, but I actually saw like glass shards getting blown out towards officers and also from the front windshield. My view was partially obstructed by the cracks in the windshield because Officer Glick had been firing rounds too and I could clearly see the suspect moving. And I believe that he was firing at the other officers with his firearm.
Only seconds from when he arrived, McMahon was still at a slow run when he fired one round at McCoy. He stopped when Glick stepped to his left in front of his gun’s muzzle.
McMahon: I believe that my safety, the safety of the officers that were on scene and also the public that was walking around the complex was in imminent danger based on what I was hearing from the multiple shots that were going on. I continue to run towards the shots. And when I approached the front or the driver's side door of Officer Glick’s vehicle I saw a black male in the driver's seat or the Mercedes moving back and forth. At that point I had a clear unobstructed shot with my firearm out and I believed I had a position of advantage to flank the guy because I thought he was actively shooting at officers that are in a gunfight. I fired one round at center mass and I was going to follow up with more rounds but officer Glick had gotten to the front of my muzzle and I stopped firing.
Detective Yates made sure that McMahon clarified what specific danger he and his fellow officers had allegedly been in.
Yates: And in essence, if if his gun would have came up, they would have been,
McMahon: They would have been in the direct line of fire.
Neither detectives Long nor Yates asked McMahon about other uses of force that could have been used.
Long: Anyone else have anything? [No.] You can just initial and date that right there. I'll put the case number on there.
The Solano County District Attorney’s office sought to recuse itself from the McCoy case, citing the community’s lack of trust in the office. It eventually brought in a special prosecutor, former San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos, to determine whether any of the six shooting officers should be criminally charged. Ramos cleared all six in January 2021, nearly two years after the shooting.
KPIX: No charges. The special prosecutor says those six police officers acted in self defense when they shot Willie McCoy dozens of times. Now the McCoy family says they are disgusted by the outcome. I want to warn you that the video you’re about to see…[Fade]
In a 16-page report, Ramos described the McCoy shooting as “a proper exercise” of the officers’ “right of self-defense and defense of others.”
The internal investigation into the shooting sustained three policy violations against McMahon: unsafe weapons handling, unsafe work practices, and unsatisfactory work performance.
It exonerated him on allegations that he used unreasonable force.
McMahon was fired in October 2020 for endangering Glick when firing at McCoy, making him the first Vallejo police officer to lose his job in relation to a police killing in recent memory.
The lawsuit brought against the City of Vallejo and the Vallejo Police Department is ongoing, and the California Attorney General's Office is reviewing Vallejo police’s policies and how it conducts itself.
Pointer: This is much more complex than a one-off situation where you have a one rogue police officer that broke rank and did something that the Department can disavow or even try to explain away.
Chants: …No justice, no peace! Fuck the police!
On February 9th, 2021, the second anniversary of the Vallejo police killing of Willie McCoy, families of people impacted by police violence rallied outside the California Capitol building in Sacramento.
That included Samaria Rice, mother to 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was killed by police in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014, and Michelle and Ashley Monterrosa, sisters to Sean Monterrosa, the latest person killed by Vallejo police on June 2, 2020. Here’s Michelle Monterrosa.
Monterrosa: We're originally born and raised in San Francisco and it took my brother being on Vallejo one night to be murdered. But I feel that the universe and God allowed for it to happen to shed light on what's happening in Vallejo for so long. All these families, we’re a big family. Now no one wants to be a part of this family. But I'm so honored to be in space and call these loved ones my loved ones because we need to bring change to Vallejo. Vallejo’s been doing this for far too long.
Wearing a T-shirt with a still of police body camera video moments before they shot him, Willie McCoy’s cousin, David Harrison, said Vallejo police stood around Willie’s car while he was asleep, plotting against him.
Harrison: They couldn't get in the car was the first lie they told. There was plastic on the window with Willie's car on the passenger side already. All they had to do was push the plastic in with the baton and open the door.
Kori McCoy, Willie’s brother, shared with the crowd of about 50 people that Willie’s life was never easy.
McCoy: Willie was a special young man because Willie had overcome a lot of adversity in his life. He lost both his parents at the age of 12. And Willie went through some tough times living with his sister, had some up and down battles. But at 20 years old Willie had overcame all that adversity and he had put himself in a position to be an example to others that you can overcome some of these difficult circumstances that many of our young people are dealt.
Harrison encouraged people to watch the video of Willie’s killing, as it’s emblematic of other police killings across the country.
Harrison: Speaking on Vallejo, Vallejo, these young men that were murdered was some of the most horrific murders that you ever want to you that you ever heard of, like 55 shots, you know, jumping on the hood of somebody's car and reloading type of activity going on… These guys are dogs out here feeding and they've been let loose by the city council of Vallejo. And when your dog bites somebody, you act like you have no accountability. Yeah, we got to put the dog to sleep. And we got to send the owners of the dog and let the dogs loose. We got to send them to jail like we do any other ordinary citizens. [Applause] These are the things that we got to do. [Applause]
This has been a production of the Vallejo Sun. It was reported and produced by me, Brian Krans, and the script was edited by Scott Morris and John Glidden. To help support our work, consider subscribing to the Sun at VallejoSun.com.
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- Vallejo Police Department
- Willie McCoy
- Adante Pointer
- Anthony Cano
- Jordan Patzer
- Colin Eaton
- Bryan Glick
- Mark Thompson
- Ryan McMahon
- Craig Long
- Scott Yates
- Aaron Dillon
- Solano County District Attorney's Office
- Michael Ramos
- Justin Buffington
- Steve Darden
- Ronell Foster
- Josh Caitham
- Kevin Rose
- David Harrison
- Kori McCoy
- Michelle Monterrosa
- Ashley Monterrosa
- Sean Monterrosa
Brian Krans is a reporter in the East Bay who covers public health, from cops to COVID. He has written for the Oaklandside, Healthline, California Healthline and the Appeal.
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