Family of Deceased Rapper Claims Police Used Excessive Force Against Him

(CN) – The family of Willie McCoy claims in a suit filed in federal court Thursday that city of Vallejo police officers used excessive force, killing the then-20-year-old rapper, when they found him unconscious in the driver’s seat of a car outside of a fast food restaurant earlier this year.

In the suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, McCoy’s family asks the court to enjoin the Vallejo Police Department from “engaging in unconstitutional policing,” and to assess damages against the defendants for shooting and killing McCoy. 

According to the complaint, officers in the San Francisco Bay Area-city responded to a call on Feb. 9, 2019 reporting an unconscious man slumped over in the driver’s seat of a car outside a fast food restaurant. Officers say McCoy had a handgun in his lap – with the magazine removed. When McCoy began to rouse in his seat, scratching his shoulder and slumping forward again, officers fired 55 rounds at him. 

The family, represented by attorney John Burris, claims the officers “bungled the operation from start to finish,” and surrounded McCoy’s car but never attempted to wake him up or develop a plan to remove him from the vehicle. 

“Officers did not follow proper policing procedures and failed to take a position of safety or develop a plan to safely remove Mr. McCoy from the car, despite the fact that the passenger window was only covered by a thin piece of plastic,” the complaint states. “Instead, the Officers stood around the car and did not summon additional assistance or support. A-yet-to-be-identified Officer commanded his fellow officers to shoot Mr. McCoy if he moved and to not give Mr. McCoy a chance.”

Six police officers, the Vallejo police chief and the city manager are named as defendants in the suit. 

“We sued the Vallejo police chief and city manager on the grounds that they are the final decisions makers and through their lack of supervisions, discipline and ratification, the Vallejo police officers have engaged in a systematic pattern of police misconduct including racial profiling, illegal stops, detention and arrest, excessive use of force, and pattern of coverup with lies and false testimony,” Burris said in a phone interview Thursday. 

The complaint includes a list of 23 separate incidents that the plaintiffs’ say prove a pattern of Vallejo officers’ illegal and unfair treatment of the community.  

Burris said the family hopes that the court will place the department in a receivership or “have a federal monitor enforcing constitutional policing.”

The Vallejo Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. 

In a statement given to the San Francisco Chronicle in February, police said that “officers told the driver to keep his hands visible, however the driver quickly reached for the handgun on his lap,” and that officers discharged their weapons in fear for their own safety. 

McCoy, known as “Willie Bo,” was a rapper in the group FBG. 

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