A 20-year-old rapper gunned down by police in Vallejo, Calif. after officers found him asleep in his car with a gun on his lap was struck 25 about times, a lawyer for the family has said.
Nold, who reportedly examined the body, said bullets tore through McCoy’s shoulders, chest and arms during the fatal Feb. 9 encounter with Vallejo Police officers. Bullets also struck the young man’s face and throat, blowing off a portion of his ear.
An official coroner’s report hasn’t yet been released.
McCoy’s relatives, who said he’d been in the studio recording in recent days before his death, accused police of racial profiling and argued there was no justification for using deadly force.
“Police have a campaign of executing young black men who fit a certain profile,” McCoy’s cousin, David Harrison, told The Guardian earlier this month. “We cannot fathom why they would have to shoot him,” Harrison added, noting the rapper may have been “startled” awake. “This was senseless, shooting a man sleeping in his car. We want to make sure this never happens again to another person.”
Harrison added that no one in Vallejo trusts the police.
Authorities said the incident unfolded after employees at a Taco Bell dialed 911 at around 10:30 p.m. to report a man “slumped” behind the wheel of his car in the restaurant’s drive-thru. The engine was running, and officers said they considered opening the doors to retrieve the gun spotted on McCoy’s lap, but found they were locked.
After backup was called, officers started the process of blocking the young man’s car, which was still in drive, in the drive-thru to prevent him from making any sudden movements. McCoy woke up, however, and officers said they gave him “several commands to put his hands up.”
Rather than comply, authorities claim McCoy “quickly moved his hands downward for the firearm,” prompting officers to fire in a matter of seconds.
“Fearing for their safety, six officers fired their duty weapons at the driver,” Vallejo Police said in a statement. “Officers continued yelling commands at the driver and ultimately reached through the broken glass of the driver’s window to unlock the vehicle” before retrieving McCoy’s body to render medical aid.
McCoy was pronounced dead at the scene.
The exact number of shots fired remains unknown.
“The police’s job is to arrest people who are breaking the law — not take the law into your own hands,” said McCoy’s older brother, Willie McCoy. “You’re not [the] judge, jury and executioner. We’re never going to get over this.”
Nold has raised questions about officers’ account of the incident, arguing that even if the car doors were locked, the front passenger’s side window was already broken and had a plastic sheet covering it, which could’ve been removed.
“Their reaction wasn’t ‘can we get this person safely out of the car,’ ” Nold said, arguing the situation could have been handled differently. “Even under the worst case scenario, you still have an obligation to try and avoid the use of deadly force.
According to police, a fully loaded .40 caliber handgun was found at the scene and was later discovered to be stolen from Oregon. It wasn’t immediately clear how McCoy obtained the firearm.
The shooting remains under investigation and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.