VALLEJO, Calif. (KTVU) - The attorney for the family of Ronell Foster, who was shot and killed by a Vallejo officer after being stopped while riding a bicycle, is calling on California’s top prosecutor to investigate the police department.
“I have made a request of the Attorney General's office to not just look at this case, but Vallejo police, and question the pattern and practice, whether the conduct of the department allows for discriminatory policing to occur,” civil rights John Burris said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Burris said his law firm currently has 10 pending cases against Vallejo officers and this is the third time he’s called on the California’s Department of Justice to intervene.
Foster was shot and killed by Vallejo Officer Ryan McMahon in February 2018. McMahon reported Foster was weaving his bicycle in and out of traffic and told an Internal Affairs investigator he wanted to “take the opportunity to educate the public on the danger," according to an 81-page police report released on Monday in response to a public records request.
McMahon activated his body worn camera only after the interaction escalated and he ended up shooting and killing Foster. Photos of Foster’s injuries shown at the press conference reveal Foster was shot multiple times in the back and once in the back of his head. Four of the seven bullets that struck him were fatal, a coroner's report stated.
In his statement to police, McMahon said Foster reached for his flashlight causing him to fear for his life and therefore, open fire on Foster.
Burris’ colleague refuted that narrative.
“You can see here the officer strikes [Foster] again and Ronell goes for the flashlight to prevent him from being beaten mercilessly. He’s unarmed. He’s riding a bicycle,” said attorney Patrick Buelna.
Foster's family was also enraged by the officer-involved shooting.
“We want this man to be criminally charged. This was murder,” said Angela Giles, Foster’s aunt. “If it were you or me who did anything like this we would be held accountable. No one should be held above the law – not even the police."
Video of the incident released Monday by Vallejo police shows the department slowed down the dark and grainy body camera footage and highlighted areas with red circles and captions where they say Foster grabbed for McMahon’s flashlight.
“My experience with Vallejo police is that they always edit things to support a position they have – to ratify the officer’s conduct,” Burris said.
In an email to KTVU on Wednesday, Vallejo Capt. Lee Horton responded: “Mr. Burris’ comments are outlandish, inflammatory and simply not true…One of the videos is the entire raw, unedited footage from the involved officer’s body worn camera. The other video was our effort to provide context and accurate information to the public as how the event unfolded.”
Requests for comment to Attorney General Xavier Becerra were not answered Wednesday, regarding whether he would answer Burris' plea.
The Solano County District Attorney’s Office is still investigating Foster’s shooting.
In addition, McMahon is the same officer who was also involved in the fatal shooting of Willie McCoy in a Taco Bell drive-thru in February, one year after he shot Foster. McCoy was found sleeping in his car with a stolen gun on his lap. Police say he reached for a gun causing six of their officers to open fire.
Foster’s aunt said all the family wants is accountability.
“Two kills in 360 days. In one town. One city," she said. "[McMahon] doesn’t belong here with us. He doesn’t."
Candice Nguyen is an investigative reporter with KTVU Fox 2. Send her comments and story tips at firstname.lastname@example.org