by John Glidden | Jan. 14, 2021
VALLEJO – A special prosecutor has determined that six Vallejo police officers were “legally justified,” when they shot and killed 20-year-old Willie McCoy outside a local Taco Bell in February 2019.
Michael Ramos declined to bring charges against officers Anthony Cano, Ryan McMahon, Collin Eaton, Bryan Glick, Jordon Patzer, and Mark Thompson, stating that each officers’ use of force was “a proper exercise of his right of self-defense and defense of others…,” according to Ramos’ 16-page report.
The Feb. 9, 2019 incident began after officers responded to reports of a man, later identified as McCoy, unconscious inside his vehicle which was parked in the restaurant’s drive-through.
Arriving officers surrounded McCoy’s car with their guns drawn, after Cano allegedly saw a weapon on McCoy’s lap. Footage from the officers’ body worn cameras shows McCoy begin to stir and lean forward as officers start to yell commands. A brief moment later, they open fire killing McCoy.
Ramos contends the officers only had minutes to formulate a plan to use non-lethal force.
“Then when McCoy woke up, he posed a clear and immediate threat to the officers, and the officers faced with a life and death situation and had seconds to decide how to stop the threat,” Ramos wrote.
Attorney Melissa Nold, who is representing the McCoy family in its civil case against the city, said Thursday night that the “family and community are understandably outraged, but sadly not surprised” by Ramos’ decision.
“We think the District Attorney (Krishna Abrams) should resign immediately due to her shameless bias and mishandling of this case and other recent officer involved shootings,” Nold added.
Nold further said the McCoy family was “disgusted to learn” that Ramos relied on a report from a use-of-force expert hired by the city months following the shooting. In his 51-page report released in June 2019, David Blake said the use of deadly force by the officers was “in line with contemporary training and police practices associated with use of deadly force.”
Blake concluded the six officers fired 55 rounds at McCoy in 3.5 seconds. An autopsy performed on McCoy’s body found that he was shot 38 times, including in his lungs and heart.
“This is unprecedented and creates real problems for the District Attorney’s Office as it related to future criminal prosecutions,” Nold went on to say. “We think the incoming Attorney General should investigate her office for covering up the corruption and murder at Vallejo PD.”
Abrams originally recused her office from investigating the McCoy and Sean Monterrosa shootings, claiming a lack of public trust with her office. In response, Randy Risner, Vallejo’s interim city attorney at the time, threatening legal action if Abrams didn’t investigate the fatal officer-involved shootings.
Monterrosa was shot and killed outside a Vallejo Walgreens by officer Jarrett Tonn in the early morning hours of June 2.
Abrams finally gave in, appointing Ramos as special prosecutor in July 2020. Abrams’ decision settled a weeks-long standoff between her office and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as both publicly stated the other was responsible for investigating the controversial shooting.
The DA has faced increasing scrutiny over the last few years as her office clears Vallejo police officers involved in fatal shootings.
Abrams’ office cleared Vallejo police officer Zachary Jacobsen of any wrongdoing after he shot and killed Angel Ramos during the early morning hours of Jan. 23, 2017 in Vallejo.
Her office also declined to file any charges against officer Ryan McMahon after he shot and killed Ronell Foster following a struggle behind a building in downtown Vallejo in early 2018.
McMahon was served with a notice of termination last fall following an internal affairs investigation which concluded the officer engaged in unsafe conduct during the McCoy shooting.
Vallejo police Chief Shawny Williams said McMahon’s actions were “dangerous” and “violated safety norms of firearms handling” when he began running with his weapon out and extended with another officer in his “cone of fire.”