Groups protest police shootings
Some of the anguished cries in unison, among them “No justice, no peace” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” and the signs, “Black Lives Matter,” for one, seemed familiar.
After all, the televised fatal shootings of young black men and boys, unarmed, armed or seemingly armed, at the hands of police are certainly the stuff of neareveryday headlines in America and, from time to time, the Bay Area and Solano County.
Such pain, including the collective shouting of deceased names, Ronell Foster and Eric Reason among them, and homemade signs could be heard and seen Tuesday afternoon in front of and inside the County Administration Center in Fairfield.
There, some 50 members of the Justice Coalition of Vallejo, a couple of well-known Bay Area civil rights attorneys and the families of shooting victims protested what they believe were a series of unjustified shooting deaths of several black and brown men at the hands of Vallejo police officers during the last couple of years and District Attorney Krishna Abrams’ perceived inaction or delays to prosecute the shooters.
As microphones and TV cameras were set up outside the Texas Street administration center, Kori McCoy, the brother Willie McCoy, who was shot and killed by Vallejo police officers in February, said Officer Ryan McMahon, who shot
and killed Foster in February 2018, is “still roaming the street” and shouldn’t be, although he acknowledged the officers involved in his brother’s death were cleared of wrongdoing by the District Attorney’s Office.
McCoy said that body camera footage posted online and available to the public showed that his brother was shot and killed without justification.
McCoy was, seemingly, at a loss for words, recounting some of the details, wondering how “it escalated to the point” that Willie, his younger brother, lost his life.
Asked what he would like to do, McCoy said, “I’d like to prosecute Ryan McMahon.”
His remarks come after an August analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that indicated getting killed by police is a leading cause of death for young black men in America, with black men and
boys 2.5 times more likely than white men and boys to die during an encounter with police. The study’s findings also showed that Latino men and boys, black women and girls, American Indian men, women and children are killed at higher rates that their white peers, but that the vulnerability of black males was particularly striking.
The remarks also come as California, beginning in January, will adopt new standards governing the use of deadly force by law enforcement agencies.
Before the formal protest got underway, Bay Area civil rights attorney Melissa Nold issued a press release that called for Abrams to charge McMahon with the murder of Foster, who at the time was trying to flee and was shot in the back.
“Ms Abrams has had the police report of the Foster incident on her desk since March 2019, at which time she told Foster’s family that the review would be done within 90 days,” she wrote in the prepared statement. “We are now in month eight and the report is still ‘under review.’ It should take no longer than 4 months for a DA to make a charging decision. Why the delay?”
In the prepared statement, Nold, who appeared at the protest with wellknown Oakland-based civil rights attorney John Burris, known for his work on police brutality cases, also also demanded an “independent investigation” of the recent killing of Reason by off-duty Richmond police Sgt. Virgil Thomas.
Reason, she noted, was running away when he was shot in the back of the head.
“VPD officers did not follow standard protocol with Thomas,” she wrote. “They did not sequester him, but allowed him to hang around the crime scene. They have stated that they believe Thomas will be exonerated when the investigation is complete. We do not trust VPD or RPD to conduct a fair and unbiased investigation.”
The Vallejo Police Department “is out of control” and has shown a pattern of misconduct, which the City of Vallejo and Solano County District Attorney have chose to “dismiss the issue,” Nold added.
During the protest outside the center, family members spoke about their loved ones and their loss.
Paula McGowan, mother of Ronell Foster, called her son’s killing and Abrams’ seeming inaction “inhuman and a damn shame.”
“If you don’t do something about this, you’re as guilty as he is,” she said, referring to McMahon. “If he were your child, he would have been charged.”
Burris said such cases are “shocking” to him and “nothing’s been done.” He said officers involved in unjustified killings “need to be prosecuted,” because they show “a reckless disregard” for the life of a human being.
Nold, in her remarks to the crowd, said, “We don’t shoot people in the back of the head,” a reference to Reason and called for an outside investigation of the Vallejo police.
Afterward, the crowd moved to the fourth floor of the Administration Center, where the McGowan and Sullivan asked to meet with Abrams, but the district attorney was not available, they were told.
Paula McGowan looks at the posters referring to the February 2018 shooting death of her son, Ronell Foster, by Vallejo police Officer Ryan McMahon.