The City of Vallejo to pay $5 million to Willie McCoy’s family for his brutal death


A city in California has decided to give $5 million to the family of a 20-year-old man who was shot 55 times by police while he was asleep in his car in 2019.

The city, Vallejo, which is located to the north-east of San Francisco, announced on Wednesday that its council had agreed to this payment for the family of Willie McCoy. McCoy, who hoped to make it big as a rapper in the Bay Area, was killed by six officers in an incident that caused widespread anger across the country. The event took place at a Taco Bell on February 9, 2019, when police shot a flurry of bullets into his car shortly after they arrived.

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The police said McCoy had reached down towards a gun, but video from their body cameras didn’t show this. Instead, it seemed like McCoy was just waking up and moved his hand to scratch his shoulder. The video also showed that the police did not try to wake him up or let him know they were there before they aimed their guns at him. Before McCoy woke up, one officer was heard saying, “If he reaches for it, you know what to do,” and another said, “I’m going to pull him out and snatch his ass.”

McCoy’s death led to protests in California and severe criticism, especially after a city-hired consultant claimed that the officers firing 55 shots in about 3.5 seconds was justified based on his experience.

No charges were brought against the officers involved.

This incident brought more attention to the Vallejo police department, known for its history of violent incidents and misconduct. Between 2010 and 2020, Vallejo had one of the highest records of police-involved killings in California, with several officers involved in multiple shootings but not facing any charges. A 2020 report by Open Vallejo, a local news website, found that some officers would bend their badges to mark each time they killed someone.

One of the policemen involved in McCoy’s shooting had earlier been responsible for the death of Ronell Foster, 32, who was unarmed and riding his bike without lights. Vallejo compensated Foster’s family with $5.7 million, the highest settlement the city has ever made.

The lawsuit brought by McCoy’s family hadn’t gone to court yet and might have taken many more years to resolve. McCoy’s brother Kori and his cousin David Harrison, who also helped start the Willie McCoy Foundation, mentioned that the family was not united on the decision to settle. They shared in a statement how devastated they were when McCoy was killed by Vallejo police, criticizing the justice system for not holding anyone accountable and calling it a cover for systemic racism that protects police at any cost.

They wanted to take the case to trial to highlight the need for significant changes and shed light on the bigger issues within the police department. They stated that the settlement does not bring justice or cause for celebration, expressing a desire for future victims’ families to learn from their experience and succeed in challenging the system.

Marc McCoy, another of Willie’s brothers, expressed that no amount of money could replace Willie’s life. He highlighted the routine nature of compensating families without addressing the root issues or holding the responsible officers accountable. He pointed out that the burden of these payments falls on Vallejo’s taxpayers, not the police officers themselves. He wished for a way to directly hold the officers accountable.

The city’s response to the settlement was that it doesn’t mean they are admitting to any fault or wrongdoing by Vallejo or its employees.

Jack Wolf
Jack Wolf
Jack is Long Beach native and proud member of US News Hub team. Jack knows best what Long Beach residents want and need to hear as he is one of them. At US News Hub, Jack is the one responsible for local news in Los Angeles county, with the focus on the Long Beach area.

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