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Police used ‘reasonable’ force, report finds

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California rapper Willie McCoy, also known as Willie Bo, was fatally shot by police.
USA TODAY

The family attorney for a slain California rapper on Thursday dismissed an independent reportthat found officers acted reasonably in the February shooting, saying he expected the city of Vallejo would hire an expert to support police.

The report released this week found that six officers fired 55 times at20-year-old Willie McCoy in the span of 3.5 seconds shortly after he woke up from sleeping in his car in the drive-thru lane of a Taco Bell restaurant.

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Attorney John Burris told USA TODAY he believed the report was irrelevant, particularly since the hired expert also deemed police had probable cause in the fatal 2018 shooting of Stephon Clark.

“It only means to me that local police agencies have found a person they can count on to support their position,” Burris said.

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The independent use of force report ordered by the city concluded each officer had probable cause to believe McCoy posed an immediate threat.

The report’s author, David Blake, a police consultant and retired peace officer, also wrote that police had reasonable suspicion to detain McCoy, who was found unconscious in his car while in possession of a gun. Blake reviewed video footageand interviewed officers and witnesses to inform his opinions.

“Officers are not required to wait until a weapon is pointed at them to take the necessary steps to save their own lives,” Blake wrote in the report, adding that their actions were “reasonable based upon my training and experience as a range instructor as well as through applied human factors psychology.”

His consulting office did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

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City Attorney Claudia Quintana said the independent report is not expected to affect the investigations by the Vallejo Police Department or Solano County District Attorney’s Office. It may take nearly two years for the office to issue a final report, police have previously said.

The report released this week was prepared in anticipation of civil litigation, Quintana said in an email to USA TODAY.

Burris has filed a wrongful death and civil rights violation claim against the city. He said a federal lawsuit is also planned.

The incident, Burris said, is one of more than 10 pending cases he is working that accuse the Vallejo Police Department ofracial profiling and excessive force.

Burris said the independent report will not affect his assessment on McCoy’s case.

“These officers used deathly force tactics,” Burris said. “They wake a man up and, before he has a chance to react, they shoot and kill him. That cannot be reasonable.”

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