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Have you ever been so tired that you had to pull your car over somewhere and take a nap. I have done that in years, but I’ve it before – several times.

On this past Saturday, in Vallejo, California, 20 year old Willie McCoy, a young Black man, was so exhausted from the day that he pulled his car over into a Taco Bell parking lot, and fell asleep. Listen, sometimes the days are long and exhausting, and taking a short nap in your car is actually the safest thing you can do. It’s definitely safer than falling asleep at the wheel while you are driving.

But of course, it appears that someone from the Taco Bell called 911 on Willie McCoy. Because what’s scarier than a Black man sleeping in his car.

Now here’s the thing – having the police called on you in any city – can be dangerous, but having the Vallejo Police called on you, is altogether different. They are among the most flagrantly violent police in the country – regularly in trouble for beating, and assaulting, and shooting folk. They’ve been problematic my whole life.

In California, as soon as you say the words, “The Vallejo Police Department” people already know that means trouble. And so when you call the police on somebody in Vallejo, you do so knowing damn well that that could very well be a life or death situation. That’s no secret.

And of course, because it’s Vallejo, three police cars showed up. And when they showed up, Willie McCoy was indeed sound asleep. Six officers surrounded the car, demanding that he wake up and show them his hands. One officer said he saw a gun in the car. And I’ll talk more about that in a second. When Willie McCoy finally woke up, one officer said he saw Willie make a sudden movement that made him think Willie was reaching for his gun, so he began shooting Willie.

Guess what happened next? All six cops began shooting Willie McCoy. The Vallejo Police Department admits that all six officers fired their guns at Willie, but they are so embarrassed by how many times they fired their weapons that they won’t admit the number. Some people in the area who heard the shooting are saying it sounded like 50-60 shots.

Let me pause right there.

Here’s what I know – white men who armed with enough guns for a small militia – who just shot up movie theaters and schools and churches – killing dozens and dozens of people – who even had shootouts with police – killing cops – white people who were armed and dangerous – and just killed folk – are routinely taken in alive by police – without even a bruise a scratch.

But not Willie McCoy. He got a firing squad.

I saw white folk quoting Willie McCoy’s criminal record, but I don’t care what he did. Dylann Roof had a criminal record before he shot up one of our churches – killing 9 folk at point blank range, but that man didn’t have a scratch on him when he was arrested.

The young man who murdered so many students and staff in Parkland Florida – police had been to his home – primarily because of him – over 50 times, but he was arrested without incident.

Virtually every white mass shooter we can name has been arrested without even a bruise, but not Willie McCoy.

And I don’t wanna hear that it’s because he had a gun in his car.

Police shot and killed that man because they wanted to. It wasn’t the gun that got Willie shot, because police are admitting that he never touched it. It was Willie’s skin that got him killed. Nobody could tell me otherwise.

Had that been a white man in the car, and if that white man had just shot up that whole damn Taco Bell, police would’ve slowed down, taken their time, figured it out, and taken that white man in alive. They do it everyday.

And I don’t even have the answers for how we solve all of this. But I’ve said it before and I have to say it again – it’s not training. Police are fully trained on how to take people in alive. It’s just that they are only using that training on dangerous white folk – and seem to completely forget it – and be unwilling to use it – on anybody Black.

I’m tired of it. We saw this with Philando Castile, with Alton Sterling, and with hundreds of other black folk who police just couldn’t muster up enough patience for. Police are in a huge hurry when it comes to a man like Willie McCoy. They shoot first and ask questions later – and it’s not OK.

I’ve gotta run. I’m proud to say that we are launching The North Star today, but I want you to know that I’m going to be covering this case closely. Justice, of course, will be hard to come by, but we will fight for it anyway.


Shaun King: Willie McCoy Was Killed By Police While Sleeping In His Car  was originally published on