ACLU of CA Comment on Shooting Death of Willie McCoy in Vallejo

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SAN FRANCISCO – Late on the night of Saturday, February 9, 2019, six Vallejo police officers shot and killed Willie McCoy, a 21-year-old African American man who had been sleeping in his car.

In response, Peter Bibring, Police Practices Director of the ACLU of California, issued the following statement:

Our thoughts are with Mr. McCoy’s friends and family as they mourn this heartbreaking loss.

Police officers must use deadly force judiciously, with respect for human rights, with a belief in the sanctity of all human life, and only when absolutely necessary. While this seems like a common-sense standard, it isn’t the current practice in California. Instead of requiring that officers avoid using deadly force whenever possible, current law allows police officers to use deadly force and take someone’s life even when officers have other options. This permissive approach continues to result in far too many people – especially people of color – ending up dead at the hands of police.

This is a matter of life and death: California can and must update its deadly use of force laws and provide officers with adequate guidance to successfully resolve situations like the one that resulted in Mr. McCoy’s death without anyone dying. Stronger, clearer use-of-force guidelines like the ones required by AB 392, a bill currently under consideration by the California Legislature, would help prevent more of these deadly tragedies from happening. Several police departments have already adopted stricter use of force policies, which has resulted in a reduction in uses of force without any negative impact on the public or officer safety. California has a problem with deadly policing. It’s high time we address it. Mr. McCoy should be alive today.”   

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