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Lawsuit Takes Aim at Cop, Police Chief and Town of Danville for Killing of Tyrell Wilson

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As the nation is gripped by the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial, we were sadly reminded that our local communities are not immune to police quick to pull the trigger. It was announced Tuesday that the family of Tyrell Wilson, who was shot and killed by a Danville police officer last month, is suing the officer, the police chief and the town itself.

Wilson was 32 years old and, according to his family, suffered from schizophrenia when Andrew Hall approached him on March 11 at Sycamore Valley Road and Camino Ramon near Interstate Highway 680. Hall was responding to reports of someone throwing rocks onto the highway and encountered Wilson, who was holding a paper grocery bag and at some point had a folding knife in his other hand. 

A cell phone video captured by a nearby driver graphically shows Hall with his gun drawn on Wilson, who for seconds before the shooting appears to be walking away from the officer. It’s hard to make out if he takes steps toward Hall just as he is shot in what seems to be his face before he falls to the ground.

Tyrell Wilson, 32, was fatally shot by Danville police officer Andrew Hall on March 11, 2021 in Danville, Calif. His family is suing Hall, the police chief and the town of Danville. (Photo courtesy of John Burris)

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Hall contends Wilson did walk toward him with the knife, but there is no explanation as to why the officer didn’t first attempt to use non-lethal methods or use the large, empty intersection space to distance himself. 

Danville police had issued a statement on the evening of the shooting, with a picture showing Wilson holding the bag in his left hand and the small knife in his right. In that statement, they alleged he “advanced” on the officer. 

The video taken by the witness does not show Wilson made any sudden or fast movements or visibly hold out the knife as if he’s threatening to use it against Hall. 

Neither Danville police nor their parent agency, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office, have released body or dash camera footage, which is a point of contention in the lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court. Civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing Wilson’s family, said bluntly in a statement:

“The video and witness accounts show this was a cold murder. Wilson never had a chance.”

Hall is already facing another wrongful death lawsuit for the 2018 killing of Laudemer Arboleda. Burris accuses the police chief, Allan Shields, of failing to “discipline, retrain, or otherwise remediate” Hall after he shot and killed Arboleda, which the Sheriff’s Office determined was justified. The same agency is responsible for the investigation into Wilson’s shooting.

According to Burris, it was never proven that Wilson was responsible for throwing rocks into traffic.

 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

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