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By Erik Ortiz
Police bodycam footage released Friday shows the fatal shooting of a California rapper who had been unresponsive inside of his car with a gun on his lap — and the moment that six officers opened fire multiple times after he appeared to move his arm downward.
One 30-minute video begins with an explanation of the Vallejo police department’s version of events on the night of Feb. 9, when Willie McCoy, 20, went to a Taco Bell drive-thru. Vallejo police also separately released raw footage taken from all six of the officers who fired their weapons.
The packaged video, which was shown to the McCoy family earlier this month, includes different angles of officers’ bodycams. Neither McCoy’s face nor the weapon are clearly visible, but one officer says he notices the gun has no magazine, so at the most it would have one bullet that could have been fired.
Police subtitles added to the video say the gun was actually loaded with an extended 14-round magazine.
The officers suggest trying to open the door to grab the gun. One officer says, “If he reaches for it,” then nods his head. The other officer says, “Yep.” But the door was locked.
Officers had begun to block off McCoy’s car inside the drive-thru to prevent any erratic movement if he woke up. Eventually, the officers did see McCoy moving and appearing to scratch his arm. The video is slowed down at that point.
McCoy then jerks up and appears to reach down. His face is obscured by the officer’s arm, pointing his gun.
The video then speeds up to normal time and an officer begins shouting for him to “Show me your hands!” They then fire at him within a few seconds. After shooting multiple rounds, they still command him to “show me your hands.” The video cuts off when an officer approaches the car.
An earlier press release following the incident said the officers were “fearing for their safety” when they opened fire. All six have since returned to duty. The have been identified as: Collin Eaton, Bryan Glick, Jordon Patzer, Anthony Romero-Cano, Mark Thompson and Ryan McMahon.
McMahon was also involved in a fatal shooting on Feb. 13, 2018, and Thompson has been named in an excessive force complaint filed last year.
Attorneys for the family have said McCoy — whose stage name was Willie Bo — was shot about 25 times, with injuries to his face, throat, shoulders, chest and arm. They filed a claim last month notifying they plan to sue the city.
“Overkill is an understatement,” attorney Melissa Nold told NBC News last month of McCoy’s wounds and the number of times he was struck.
Nold has also called into question the officers’ version of events after police said the doors to McCoy’s Mercedes-Benz were locked when they first considered retrieving the gun from his lap before he woke up.
Even if the doors were locked, Nold said, the front passenger’s side window was already broken and had a sheet of plastic covering it, which could have been removed if they wanted to access the firearm.
Police initially declined to release any bodycam footage, citing an ongoing investigation. But the McCoy family demanded it be made public in the weeks after the shooting, and the independent newsroom Open Vallejo noted in a request this week to the city that a Vallejo councilman was already permitted to view the video.
Vallejo police are working with the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether the officers followed the correct protocol.
“Our hope is that this information helps members of the public separate fact from fiction regarding this incident,” police said Friday in releasing the bodycam videos.
The video can be seen here. Warning, it is graphic.