The mainstream media says six Vallejo, California police officers shot aspiring rap artist Willie McCoy as he slept in his car. McCoy had passed out with a stolen gun in his lap in a Taco Bell drive-through. The bigger question for many in the community, now that police have released bodycam video from a number of officers: Did the police use excessive force?
Leave it to the Brits to react with shock and horror to the sensational story. From the UK Daily Mail:
Shocking police footage shows the moment an aspiring rapper was shot dead by several officers who fired at him multiple times as he was apparently sleeping in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell in California.
Vallejo police released nearly 30 minutes of footage on Friday showing the shooting death of Willie McCoy, 21.
The 30-minute video begins with an explanation of the Vallejo police department’s version of events on the night of February 9 when they found McCoy slumped in the driver’s seat of Taco Bell parking lot with a gun in his lap around 10.30pm.
As they were investigating, police said that McCoy suddenly made a movement towards the gun in his lap.
And there you have it. Mr. McCoy failed to follow repeated police directives to raise his hands. Instead, he reached down to his lap where a handgun with an extended magazine rested.
The Daily Mail has plenty of company in sensationalizing this tragic story.
— Daily Star (@Daily_Star) February 13, 2019
Here’s the bodycam video as released by the Vallejo PD. Skip to about the 6:00 mark to when Mr. McCoy begins to wake up. The gunfire starts about about 6:50. Caution: it’s disturbing video with some NSFW language.
When McCoy ignored the “hands up!” command and instead reached down to his lap, cops opened fire. Vallejo redacted the footage of cops dragging him out of the car, still alive, and then administering first aid. Mr. McCoy quickly succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
Again, the fact that this man had a gun in his lap and ignored police commands while reaching toward the gun makes this a pretty clear-cut case of justifiable self-defense by the cops. Investigators would later trace the stolen gun back to Oregon.
The question plenty of people are no doubt are asking: Did the cops over-react and use excessive force. Certainly the deceased’s family has retained a lawyer who has field suit, claiming police negligence.
To the untrained, six officers firing multiple rounds into an aspiring rap artist in his Mercedes Benz will undoubtedly seem heavy-handed. However, detached reflection is not demanded (or easily found) in the presence of an upraised knife. Or a hand reaching for a gun.
Clint Smith from Thunder Ranch sums up his thoughts on shooting bad guys multiple times, as needed:
“If I shoot him and he keeps coming? Shoot him again. …and again and again and again and repeat as required until what I want to happen happens.”
Indeed. Smith is right.
Sadly for his family, Mr. McCoy made a series of bad decisions that night that tragically ended in his death. No one forced him to illegally carry a stolen firearm on his lap while driving. No one made him consume illegal drugs or pass out behind the wheel in a fast food drive-through. And Mr. McCoy still could have averted disaster that night by simply raising his hands in response to multiple officers shouting for him to show his hands.