Willie McCoy’s family claims he was asleep when he was killed by Vallejo, California, police last month.
The 20-year-old’s family came to this conclusion after viewing body camera footage provided by the police department, according to The Guardian.
McCoy died on February 9 when Vallejo officers shot him at least 25 times as he napped in his car as it sat in a Taco Bell parking lot, as Blavity previously reported. The six officers claim McCoy didn’t obey commands and attempted to reach for a handgun in his lap. They were responding to a 911 call about a man slumped over in a vehicle.
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David Harrison, McCoy’s cousin, disputes their story.
“They killed him in his sleep,” said Harrison. “He scratched his arm in his sleep. And they murdered him. There is no justification.”
Marc McCoy, Willie’s older brother, agrees. He says his little brother never opened his eyes and noted how calm the officers were before they opened fire.
“They never looked threatened. They never feared for their lives,” Marc said. “There was never any attempt to resolve this in a peaceful way.”
Harrison believes the officers knew Willie wouldn’t make it out of the parking lot alive. He says one the officers said, “‘If he moves … ‘You know what to do.’”
“There was no way Willie was leaving there that day, period,” Harrison added. “He wasn’t going to leave alive. They made their minds up.”
Despite the family’s statements, the Vallejo Police Department is sticking with its story. A spokesman insists Willie “was not sleeping during the entire incident.”
“He woke up on his own and sat up, reach [sic] for the handgun when the officers told him to show them his hands, then the officers fired,” the department told The Guardian in an email.
All the officers involved in the shooting are back on patrol, according to NBC News.
The police department refuses to release the video of the killing to the public or media. It also demanded Melissa Nold, the family’s attorney, wait outside while it was shown to Willie’s relatives. Even though she did not view the video, she is backing her clients' assessments.
“It doesn’t sound like there was any plan in place. You can’t just shoot somebody when they move,” she said. “I don’t know if Willie ever knew what was happening. I think he was gone before he ever would have had an understanding.”
Harrison says the police’s unwillingness to allow legal representation into the room only bolsters the family's case.
“I understand why they don’t want attorneys to see it and why they don’t want to release it to the public,” Harrison said. “It did not look like someone was scared for their lives … They had intentions to kill Willie. That’s what I’ve seen in that video.”
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