On February 9th, 2019, Willie “Willie Bo” McCoy was found slumped over his steering wheel in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell in Vallejo, California. After employees alerted 911, six police officers were dispatched to the scene. Upon arriving, the officers approached the vehicle and all six opened fire after perceiving a “sudden movement” when Willie began to wake up. McCoy was pronounced dead at the scene.
McCoy was startled awake by the officers’ orders, and likely made reflexive movements that anyone would make in such a situation. The police claim to have feared for their lives, stating that McCoy did not adequately respond to their commands. Police further claim McCoy reached for his lap, where a firearm was resting. This was provided as justification for the shooting, and has been emphasized in media releases.
The officers were aware McCoy had a firearm on his lap, and yet still chose to continue to approach the vehicle and issue orders, instead of maintaining a distance and providing McCoy the ability to wake and compose himself. The possession of a firearm in one’s vehicle for self defense is not a crime in California, and the officers were not aware as to whether or not McCoy possessed a concealed carry license.
McCoy had not been reported as a threat, but was nonetheless immediately treated as such. Instead of responding with caution and concern while waiting for medical personnel to arrive, McCoy was met with multiple armed officers. No opportunity was provided for McCoy to “do the right thing,” and display his willingness to cooperate. Instead the police deemed themselves judge, jury, and executioner and shot him down on the spot.
In the time since the shooting, much has been made of the fact that the firearm in McCoy’s possession was reported as stolen in Oregon. It is currently unknown how it came into McCoy’s possession. This origin of the gun is irrelevant, as it had no bearing on the shooting itself. Furthermore, as shown in the shooting of Philando Castile, even people of color who are following the letter of the law are not protected from arbitrary police violence.
The Central Committee of the Socialist Rifle Association is deeply disturbed by the series of events that led to McCoy’s killing. This story is dishearteningly similar to so many others, where police react with disproportionate force to Black men or members of other disenfranchised groups for not obeying orders perfectly, often under situations of extreme duress. It is unacceptable that every day in America Black men and other people of color are continually perceived as more dangerous than their white neighbors, and are afforded little to no margin for even the slightest error when interacting with the police.
The Socialist Rifle Association categorically denounces the shooting of Willie McCoy, and the leadership offers their deepest sympathies to his family. The SRA will continue to fight for the rights of all members of the working class, especially those who have been systematically denied their rights to keep and bear the arms appropriate to defend themselves and their families. We will continue to protest and fight against laws and policies that allow for shootings like this to go unpunished with no hope of justice for those involved.
The Socialist Rifle Association is an educational organization dedicated to providing the working class with the information they need to be effectively armed for self and community defense. Our goal is to provide an alternative to the mainstream, toxic, right-wing, and non-inclusive gun culture that has dominated the firearms community for decades. We seek to provide a safe, inclusive, and left-leaning platform for talking about gun rights and self defense, free from racist and reactionary prejudices, while providing a platform for the working class to obtain the skills necessary for all aspects of community defense.