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Cop Fired, Not for Killing a Man Sleeping in His Car But for Endangering Other Cops When He Did It

A Vallejo, California police officer who was involved in two fatal shootings within a year, has been fired from the police department.

Vallejo police officer, Ryan McMahon was fired a month after documents surfaced revealing that the police chief recommended McMahon be terminated for firing a shot that could have struck his partner.

The shot was fired in February 2019 when McMahon and five other police officers fatally shot Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old Black man who was sleeping in his car in a Taco Bell parking lot.

The officers saw a gun resting on McCoy’s lap when they approached the car and say he slumped forward towards the gun when the woke him.

McMahon and the five other officers opened fire on McCoy within 4 seconds of waking him. Firing 55 shots and shooting him 25 times – with bullets striking the center of his face and throat and blowing off part of his ear, a lawyer for his family said.

The City of Vallejo concluded that the officer-involved shooting of McCoy was “was reasonable and in line with contemporary training and police practices.”

McMahon was not fired for carelessly firing into the car of a sleeping man and killing him. He was fired for weapons safety violations because when he and his fellow officers were killing Willie McCoy, he put other cops in danger.

“The idea that they would discipline and ultimately terminate him for technical issues related to endangering another officer and not have terminated him for shooting an unarmed man in the back and shooting a sleeping person it’s just really outrageous and it’s fairly consistent with our ongoing belief that the city of Vallejo refuses to properly discipline and supervise their employees,” said McCoy family attorney Melissa Nold.

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In a news release Thursday, Vallejo police Chief Shawny Williams said McMahon “violated department policies by engaging in unsafe conduct and neglect for basic firearm safety” in the 2019 fatal shooting of Willie McCoy outside of a Taco Bell.

“Any conduct outside the level of professionalism this City deserves will not be tolerated by the Vallejo Police Department,” Williams said in a news release Thursday. “I understand we have a long way to go in rebuilding trust among the residents of Vallejo and I will continue to take the necessary steps to better serve this community.”

When McMahon fired, Glick was in his potential “field of fire,” the internal investigation found. In his evaluation, Williams wrote McMahon’s actions were “dangerous” to his colleagues and out-of-step with “safety norms” of firearms handling. McMahon violated three department policies and any of them individually would support termination of an officer, Williams wrote.

“(McMahon) did not recognize that (Glick) could potentially move into his field of fire, did not communicate with Officer Glick of his intention to join the forward line of fire, did not achieve a stable shooting platform and did not recognize that the target was being effectively engaged,” the internal affairs document says.

The McCoy killing occurred almost a year to the day after McMahon shot and killed Vallejo resident Ronell Foster after stopping Foster for a minor infraction of bicycling after dark without a light. Foster took off down an alleyway, and McMahon shot him as the two struggled, he would later tell investigators. He said he believed Foster was trying to disarm him.

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McMahon shot Foster in the back and the back of the head, according to Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris, one of the attorneys who sued Vallejo on behalf of Foster’s family.

An internal investigation cleared McMahon of wrongdoing in the Foster killing, but in August the city paid $5.7 million to settle a lawsuit by Foster’s family. The settlement is one of the highest ever to be paid in a California police shooting suit.

McMahon was one of the officers named in a report by the news site Open Vallejo that a “secretive clique” inside the city’s police force would celebrate on-the-job kills by bending a tip of their badges. In a town hall meeting Friday night, Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff said allegations of badge-bending “appear true” but the city is still investigating.

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