Vallejo city council meeting disintegrates into shouting and name-calling over police behavior

Vallejo's City Council meeting disintegrated into shouting and name-calling Tuesday night,  during public comment on policing. 

Activist Jamilia Land of California Families United 4 Justice taunted the council, accusing them of being disrespectful and disinterested.  

When she singled out Councilman Hakeem Brown, he and a staff member responded indignantly, and the room swiftly erupted into bedlam.

Officers swarmed the chambers and the meeting was suspended for a time, as the room was cleared. 

"We are here today, demanding that something be done," said Land, prior to the meeting, in a rally on the City Hall steps. 

"We're not just asking Attorney General Becerra to come in, we're begging him, this city is out of control," added attorney Melissa Nold. 

The steps were crowded with friends and families of those affected by officer-involved shootings and use of force.

Critics say Vallejo police has long had a problem with overly aggressive officers, particularly in their encounters with men of color. 

February's fatal shooting of a young rapper was the latest flashpoint. Asleep in his car, police say Willie McCoy reached for a gun when they woke him. 

Shot by six officers, McCoy was the 16th death involving VPD in eight years.    

"This is a racist problem," said David Harrison, McCoy's cousin. "That's what's not being addressed, there's racism in the police department."

Families claim the department lacks accountability and that some of the same officers are involved in multiple incidents. 

Another young man, Ronell Foster, was shot last year after officers encountered him on his bicycle. 

"He was on his hands and knees and cowering away," said Foster's aunt Angela Giles," and he was shot in his back. Not one time was he an aggressor. It was murder."

Vallejo's mayor has said he welcomes reforms, and wants the community rifts to heal.

The council was poised to talk about involving the Department of Justice, and had heard a few public comments when the meeting broke down. 

"Every last one of you, you have no respect, no concern," exclaimed Land, wrapped in an American flag on which the names of deceased individuals had been written. 

The clamor and jostling intensified, as members of the audience squabbled over whether to disrupt the open session, or calm down and be heard.    

Some residents were also upset that some of the officers flooding in to secure the meeting, were the same ones they've had negative or violent encounters with. 

Activists are hopeful Attorney General Xavier Becerra will step  in. 

"The usual  way of doing business is over," said attorney Adonte Pointer, speaking at the rally. "We're calling on the state's top cop, the Attorney General, to no longer sit on the sideliines."   

Police critics are also unimpressed by the prospect of the Department of Justice sending help from its' Community Relations Division.

They would rather see the feds review actual police practices and policies. 

"We don't have a PR problem, we have a violence problem," said attorney Nold,"and when people are dying we don't need community relations, we need an investigation."    

In the next few months, Vallejo's police chief will retire, to start drawing a $19,000 monthly pension. 

Former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan has been hired as a temporary consultant to help guide the search for a new chief.