Dozens turned out for a march and rally in Danville to honor a man recently shot and killed by law enforcement.
The march began close to where 32-year-old Tyrell Wilson’s life ended, near the Park and Ride lot on Sycamore Valley Road and Camino Ramon.
Wilson was a homeless Black man stricken with mental illness who was stopped by an officer on March 11, as the officer responded to a call about a person throwing rocks at cars. Danville contracts their policing out to the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department.
Minutes before the encounter, there were reports of someone throwing rocks from an overpass onto highway 680. In the past year, law enforcement in Contra Costa County has responded to incidents of objects being thrown onto highways, sometimes with deadly results.
The attorney representing the victim’s family says deadly force was not justified in this encounter.
During their confrontation, the officer reported Wilson took out a knife, was ordered multiple times to drop it, but instead advanced toward the officer who fired one fatal shot.
"There are witnesses who contradict what the officer has to say," said attorney John Burris.
Burris represents Wilson’s family and says three witnesses claim Wilson did not initiate any threatening movements toward the officer. That raises doubts about the officer’s use of lethal force, Burris said.
The Sheriff’s Department did not give any context around the limited photo evidence they released on Facebook, showing Wilson with a knife in his hand, Burris said.
"Whether he had a knife or not in and of itself does not justify shooting and killing him unless he attacks you,’ said Burris.
Dozens of people marched downtown on their way to the police station to honor Wilson, and raise awareness about police treatment of the homeless and mentally ill.
They took a knee and blocked traffic to bring attention to their cause.
Burris says Wilson was known to many in the community since he lived in an encampment there for some time.
He says officer Hall should also have been well aware of Wilson and his mental status.
"So that goes to the question of police tactics under the circumstances and tactics will become a critical issue here," said Burris.
Burris also represents a family in another deadly Danville shooting officer Hall was involved in.
In 2018, Hall fired several shots into the moving car of Laudemer Arboleda, a mentally-ill Filipino man who was said to be ringing doorbells in the area and acting suspiciously.
Video evidence showed Hall jumping from behind his patrol car in front of Arboleda’s vehicle, contradicting the official account that Arboleda was intentionally trying to run Hall over.