Protesters call for police accountability as more claims against Vallejo emerge

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More than 50 protesters gathered in front of Vallejo City Hall Thursday calling on transparency and accountability from the police department as two more legal claims of officer misconduct were filed against the city that same day. 

“There is something rotten within the Vallejo Police Department,” said civil rights attorney John Burris whose law firm represents both claimants. 

One of the cases involves Vallejo resident Adrian Burrell who was using his phone to film a traffic stop involving his cousin on a motorcycle Jan. 22. Video shows when Vallejo Officer David McLaughlin noticed Burrell filming Officer McLaughlin suddenly diverted his attention to him and charged onto Burrell’s front porch to detain him. Officer McLaughlin accused Burrell of interfering with the stop. In the video, it does not appear Burrell interfered. An internal affairs investigation is underway into Burrell’s incident. Burrell’s claim alleges a violation of constitutional rights and assault and battery. 

“Going through this, I’ve learned a lot of things,” Burrell said at the protest. “One of the things I’ve learned about Vallejo is we live in a city that doesn’t have any external oversight for police officers…Things that happened to me and my cousin get swept under the rug.”

In early February, 2 Investigates found this wasn’t the first time Officer McLaughlin was accused of abusing his power as a police officer. Our investigative team obtained exclusive video showing McLaughlin off-duty with his gun pointed at a man in a busy Walnut Creek shopping plaza last summer. The incident was caused by a minor argument, according to Walnut Creek police. After two other officers held down the other man, video shows McLaughlin elbow and punch the father who told 2 Investigates he was at the plaza to attend his son’s birthday party. 

After KTVU’s investigation aired, McLaughlin was placed on leave. Vallejo police did not comment on the report. 

The second claim filed Thursday involved the police shooting death of Willie McCoy at a Taco Bell drive-through in February. Police initially found McCoy unresponsive in a car with a loaded firearm on his lap. The gun had an extended magazine. Shortly after the shooting, a Vallejo sergeant made a statement about the actions of the six officers.

“While they were getting into position, the driver became alert. The driver looked at the officers and they yelled commands “Show me your hands!” The driver suddenly reached for the firearm,” said Sgt. Jeff Tai.

The claim by McCoy’s family alleges negligence by those officers.

“We believe the problem is far greater than these individual cases,” said Burris. “We have been involved in at least 14 cases with Vallejo police over the past seven years. Many of those cases involve death; many involve racial profiling and excessive force.”

KTVU reached out to police and Vallejo’s mayor for comment about the protest but received no response. In the past they have said they do not comment on pending litigation.