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Willie McCoy family files civil rights lawsuit against Vallejo, officers

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Civil rights attorney John Burris Thursday filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Vallejo’s city manager, chief of police and six police officers in connection with the fatal officer-involved shooting of rapper Willie McCoy in February.

The wrongful death suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, alleges the city has been ratifying a decades-long pattern and practice of misconduct among police officers that includes use of excessive force, false arrest, assault, battery, infliction of emotional distress, falsifying police reports and witness intimidation.

In the complaint, McCoy’s family alleges:

“The Vallejo Police Department’s unconstitutional policing has become so dire and widespread that the City’s residents live in terror of the police department.” 

McCoy fell asleep in the drive-thru lane of a Taco Bell on Feb. 9. Officers said he had a gun with the magazine removed on his lap and instead of taking a position of safety and developing a plan to remove McCoy from the car, the six Vallejo police officers fired 55 rounds at McCoy, 20, in a one-sided gun battle as soon as he began to rouse, according to the complaint.

Video evidence shows that McCoy made a movement to possibly get the gun he had on his lap. Police opened fire three seconds after officers’ first told McCoy to show his hands, according to a report by an expert in police use of force.

In a news release, Burris said:

“This lawsuit recounts dozens of other documented incidents of egregious misconduct which represents just a fraction of the total incidents of misconduct by Vallejo police officers.” 

Burris said:

“These abuses continue year after year because the City refuses to discipline, retrain and/or terminate known violent officers.”

The 26-page complaint demands a trial by jury, and requests damages, attorney fees and injunctive relief enjoining Vallejo police from engaging in unconstitutional policing and an independent monitor assigned to supervise and evaluate whether the unconstitutional policing has stopped.

Vallejo officials this month said the expert on police use of force concluded that the use of deadly force in the McCoy shooting was reasonable and in line with contemporary training and police practices.

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