Town of Danville, Police Officer Sued Over Fatal Shooting Of Homeless Man Having Mental Health Crisis

The shooting death by a White police officer of a homeless Black man armed with a knife and having a mental health crisis in a busy intersection in Danville last month is prompting a federal civil rights lawsuit by the man's family. Devin Fehely reports. (4/6/21)

Video Transcript

ELIZABETH COOK: First, our top story on KPIX 5 and screaming on CBSN Bay Area, a civil rights lawsuit in a deadly police shooting, new video, and the claims it didn't need to happen. Good evening, I'm Elizabeth Cook.

ALLEN MARTIN: And I'm Allen Martin. We are going to start in Danville where the city and Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office are under legal fire. It's over a police shooting that ended with a homeless Black man killed. KPIX 5's Devin Fehely joins us live in Danville with new video of that shooting. Devin?

DEVIN FEHELY: Yeah, that shooting happened in the intersection behind me here. Now, Danville police say that-- say Wilson was armed with a knife and threatened the officer. But according to an attorney for the victim's family, he says a newly surfaced video tells a very different story.

The cell phone video was recorded by a driver at the intersection where the shooting happened. It shows Officer Andrew Hall with his gun drawn, aimed squarely at Wilson. Six seconds after the video begins, a single gunshot can be heard.

[GUNSHOT]

Wilson crumples to the ground, shot in the face, an injury that would claim his life six days later.

DIANE WILSON: I don't know how this is going to stop, but something needs to be done so we don't keep killing our Black and Brown men. Tyrell's mother Diane and father Marvin have filed a federal lawsuit. It accuses the officer who shot and killed their son of being a, quote, "murderer hiding behind a badge."

MARVIN WILSON: He waited until Tyrell turned around to say whatever, what do you want, why are you following me? And then, that's when he shot him in the face.

DEVIN FEHELY: Danville police were originally called to the area to investigate a report of someone throwing rocks at cars from the freeway overpass. That's when Officer Hall saw Tyrell, who lived in a homeless encampment a short distance away. Danville police later released this photo, which shows Tyrell holding a grocery bag in one hand and a knife in the other. Civil rights attorney John Burris says that alone is not enough to justify the shooting

JOHN BURRIS: We do not have Tyrell being aggressive and running or threatening the officers. The mere presence of the knife itself is not, in any way, a death warrant.

DEVIN FEHELY: The City of Danville and the Danville Police Department would not comment on the case because of the pending lawsuit. Officer Hall is on administrative leave. He was also involved in a deadly 2018 officer involved shooting, and Tyrell's parents question if he's fit to have a badge at all.

DIANE WILSON: I do want the officer to come to some kind of justice because I don't want another parent or father to go through what we're going through now.

ALLEN MARTIN: Devin, I understand you just spoke-- you got off the phone with Officer Hall's attorney. What was he telling you?

DEVIN FEHELY: Yeah, just a few moments ago. He says that this newly surfaced video is not as definitive as John Burris would like the public to believe. He says, first of all, it doesn't capture the relevant audio, what the two were saying to each other at the time of the shooting. He also says that there's at least two other videos, a body camera video and a video from a nearby car at that intersection, and he says that-- that capturing the audio is important because he says the tenor of that conversation, he says, that Wilson was threatening of the officer and advanced, albeit slowly, in his direction before he was shot.

ALLEN MARTIN: All right, Devin. We'll see if all that comes out. Thanks so much. Now, here's more information on when Danville police officers are allowed to use deadly force. Their training states, "When in defense of one's own life, or to prevent serious physical harm, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of death or serious physical injury." Now, we put the full policy on our website, KPIX.com