On February 9th, 20-year-old Willie McCoy— an up-and-coming Oakland rapper– was asleep in his car when six Vallejo cops shot him 25 times. He was executed with his eyes closed and head down in a Taco Bell drive thru. Cops were called to fast food restaurant after an employee called 911 to have Willie checked on as he was unresponsive when other workers tried to wake him up. As soon as two officers arrived on scene, they pulled their guns out and aimed them at his head because Willie had a gun on his lap. Still, he wasn’t moving or waking up while they talked loudly toward the car. Neither cop tried to wake Willie up and instead, one commented, “I’m going to pull him out and snatch his ass,” while the other replied, “If he reaches for it, you know what to do” in reference to the firearm on Willie’s lap. Four more officers appeared outside of Willie’s car and as soon as he scratched his head, still unconscious, all six officers fired 25 bullets on Willie, striking his face, throat, chest area, and arms. He wasn’t even awake when he was shot dead. After they killed him, the officers yelled for him to keep his hands up and raise them. The cops repeatedly said they shot Willie out of “fear for their own safety,” despite his comatose state. Not once did any of the Vallejo cops try to see if Willie would wake up or if he was in need of medical assistance before they reached for their guns and executed him. One of the cops previously killed an unarmed man and was facing a wrongful death lawsuit while another one was sued for police brutality, yet both were still employed and active on the streets when they murdered Willie.
As a rapper, Willie focused on the issues that mostly affected his life in the Bay Area. He wrote many lyrics about police violence, prison, and wrongful incarceration, once rapping, “I was guilty until I proved I’m innocent.” After his murder, the cops left Willie’s body lying on the ground like a piece of road kill. He wasn’t anything more than a Black body to them as they wouldn’t even tell his family members what they’d done to him. Nearly two months later and we finally have the body cam footage of Willie’s murder, which clearly shows his vulnerability in the car and the absolute terror of 25 bullets piercing his skin and muscle until he was no longer himself. Willie was making a name for himself as a young rapper in his hometown, but his life was taken by more trigger happy cops who chose to execute him and toss his body to the side like he wasn’t even a person. Willie’s life mattered. It’s no longer enough to ask that police departments train their officers better because implicit bias training will never rid these authoritarian killers of their racism and violence. Cops will never stop murdering civilians like ruthless sadists unless they actually face consequences. We will never see justice for people like Willie until DA’s stop taking money from police unions and the entire criminal justice system is overhauled. I’m afraid that he’ll just become another statistic– another Black man whose killers were acquitted in a horrific showing of unlimited power. Willie was murdered by firing squad and his family and friends and everyone who loved his music will have to live the rest of their lives without him. And they deserve justice.