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By Erik Ortiz
A young Californian was shot dead by police after finding him unexpectedly in his car, a gun on his lap, hit about 25 times. Bullets hit the center of her face and throat and ripped off part of her ear. the family said.
Oakland attorney, Melissa Nold, who said he examined Willie McCoy's body, 20 years old last week, told NBC News that he had also been injured on the shoulders, at the same time. chest and arm when meeting with six officers.
"Excess is a euphemism," Nold said of his injuries and the number of times he was hit.
The coroner's report was not published and the Vallejo police refused to comment further during an active investigation.
McCoy – a Bay Area rapper known by his stage name Willie Bo – was in the recording studio in recent days, said his family. They believe that he had gone to eat a tip at Taco Bell and was so exhausted that he fell asleep while waiting in the driving department.
Employees called the police around 10:30 am when they saw him slumped behind the wheel of the car with the engine running, the Vallejo police said in a statement last week.
Nold also questioned the officers' version of the events in which they said the doors of McCoy's Mercedes-Benz were locked when they first considered getting the rifle out of his lap before waking up.
Even though the doors were locked, the front passenger's side window was already broken and covered with a plastic sheet that could have been removed, said Nold. The video of McCoy's car being towed as a result of the scene shows plastic on the open window and several bullet holes in the windshield.
The police were blocking McCoy's car in the driving department so he did not make any sudden movements. When he woke up, the police said they had given him "several orders to raise their hands".
Rather than abide by it, police said he "had quickly moved his hands" towards the gun.
Six officers "fearing for their safety" opened fire in about four seconds, the police added.
"The officers continued to shout orders to the driver and finally managed to reach the vehicle through the driver's window glass," they said, before recovering McCoy's body for first aid. He died on the scene.
Nold said the situation could have been handled differently, all the more so as they acknowledged that McCoy was not responsive at first.
"Suppose he had a medical emergency and that he needed help.Their reaction was not that we could get that person out of the car safely," he said. Nold.
"Even in the worst case, you still have the obligation to try to avoid the use of lethal force," she added.
Authorities reported that a fully loaded 40-gauge semi-automatic handgun with an extensive magazine was found on the scene and was stolen from Oregon.
David Klinger, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a former police officer said the initial actions of the police seemed logical to protect public safety, but the number of agents who ultimately triggered their triggers is worrisome, especially since the agents had time to formulate a plan.
"Except for a really extraordinary explanation, too many bullets have been fired by too many officers," he said.
According to a document from the Vallejo police department on police protocol, the use of lethal force can only be used "where reasonable" and to prevent an "immediate threat" of death or injury; apprehend a suspect who is escaping and is suspected of having committed a violent or life threatening crime; or kill a dangerous or seriously injured animal when there is no human alternative.
In general, when police find a sleeping person with a firearm handy, she must consider how she can grasp her weapon reflexively, said Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of Criminology at the University. from South Carolina and police expert. use of force.
As McCoy did not immediately respond, the police were on the "right track" to try to block him so he did not move suddenly with his car.
But Alpert wondered if any of the officers had decided to stand near the car, where a surprised McCoy could have shot them.
"Being in the line of sight of an armed man is not the smartest thing to do," said Alpert, adding that police were trained to approach cars with care and identify potential threats .
Alpert also worries about the number of officers who have used their weapons and multiple shots fired.
"If they're smart enough to block the car, why do not they anticipate the worst, but do they understand that there's always a good chance that he's an innocent person who's safe?" Is asleep and wanted the weapon to protect himself? He asked.
The Vallejo Police is working with the Solano County Attorney's Office as part of the investigation. The prosecutor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
At a Vallejo Town Council meeting last week, a woman who introduced herself as McCoy's girlfriend asked in tears that the body camera footage of the officers be made public.
The police will be required to broadcast the corresponding video within 45 days of state legislation, signed last fall, which requires all law enforcement agencies in California to do it when an officer fires his weapon or uses deadly force. Departments can delay publication by up to 30 days if this hinders the investigation.
Klinger stated that the camera images on the body would be important to gather a number of details, including the chronology of events, the control exercised on the scene, the manner in which he was determined who would use his weapon and where were located the police when they shot.
"It is possible that all the officers had to shoot, but it is not very likely," he added.
Nold said it was imperative that the police communicate under what circumstances it is acceptable to "shoot and kill someone who looks like he wants to take a taco". She said that she was disappointed by the failure of the police – more than a week after the murder – to even call McCoy's family and identify her as the deceased person. that night at Taco Bell.
"We only know," said Nold, "because we saw him at the morgue."