By the time Williams was sworn in in November, Vallejo’s officers had killed 18 people in less than a decade, according to KTVU. Between 2005 and 2017, the Bay Area community of 122,000 people recorded the third highest rate of per capita police murders in the state, according to an NBC Bay Area survey.
“Vallejo is like a distillation of the issues that a lot of places I think face,” Geoffrey King, founder of nonprofit news site Open Vallejo, told W. Kamau Bell in the episode “United Shades of America “Sunday.” Police Police. “
“There was a 2016 research investigation by Pew of some 7,800 law enforcement officers nationwide,” King continued. “They found that 73% of law enforcement officers had never fired with their weapon. Forty percent of Vallejo’s police departments had been in at least one shootout. [according to Open Vallejo research], and about a third of these had been in two or more. “
This includes Vallejo’s now fired officer Ryan McMahon, who was involved in two fatal shootings, reports KGO, a CNN affiliate. In 2018, McMahon shot down Ronell Foster, 33, in a confrontation over a missing headlamp on Foster’s bike. The following February, McMahon was one of six agents who opened fire on Willie McCoy, the 20-year-old who appeared to fall asleep in a fast food restaurant. The officers, who had arrived for a health check, said they believed McCoy was looking for a gun in his lap.
The series of fatal shootings by Vallejo officers, including the murder of Angel Ramos, 21, in 2017, has led to protests as the families of the deceased demand answers and accountability, The Times reported. Herald of Vallejo.
Williams, who is the city’s first black police chief, appeared to acknowledge this story when he was sworn in as he pledged to restore trust with a skeptical community, according to KGO. “Today,” said Williams, “we charted a new direction.”
Seven months later, however, it was clear how difficult this new direction was going to be.
On June 2, amid nationwide protests in response to George Floyd’s death at the hands of police, 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa was shot dead by a Vallejo officer in a Walgreens parking lot. Police, who were investigating reports of looting, said a hammer in Monterrosa’s pocket was mistaken for a gun.
In July, the disturbing news continued: A report from Open Vallejo alleged that some Vallejo officers were folding the ends of their police badges to mark fatal shootings on the job.
Williams called for an investigation and declared in October a public safety emergency to speed up the process of implementing the reforms, according to CNN affiliate KPIX.
As ongoing calls for police accountability spread to the White House, Bell sat down for a virtual interview with Williams to learn more about how he is approaching change in his department.
“There are tangible changes that we are making now,” said Williams. “I wanted a stricter policy on body-worn cameras, from “should” activate to “must” activate on each contact. We had this change. … We are working on our standards of conduct and our ethics policy; I believe that cultural change starts with this.
“It is important for me to approach these community concerns with empathy and compassion,” he continued. “Change takes time. I can’t change the past, but I can impact the future – and that’s what we’re focused on.”
“United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET / PT.