Vallejo police chief announces independent investigation into badge bending allegations

Bay Area

VALLEJO, Calif. (KRON) — Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams announced Friday the launch of an independent, third-party investigation into allegations of badge bending by Vallejo police officers.

Williams, who has been under scrutiny after several fatal police shootings within the department, said he is opening an inquiry into allegations that officers bent their badges to mark on-duty killings.

The call for the investigation follows an official inquiry placed by Chief Williams earlier this week. The allegations include officers taking part in the act after an officer-involved shooting occurs. 

“We’ve received statements from two different sources within the Vallejo Police Department that badge bending has occurred,” Chief Williams said. “As a result of these very troubling and disturbing allegations, I’ve asked for an independent outside investigation to be completed by a third party.”

John Whitney, a former Vallejo police captain, previously accused the department of firing him last year for flagging misconduct that included concerns that some officers bent their badges in a ritual to mark fatal shootings.  

Whitney spoke out after the February, 2019 fatal shooting of 20-year-old Willie McCoy, who fell asleep at a Taco Bell drive-through, according to Open Vallejo. Police said McCoy had a gun in his lap.

Whitney said he became aware of the alleged ritual after McCoy’s killing.

In August, 2019, Whitney was fired from the force.

According to an investigation, almost 40% of the department’s officers had been involved in a shooting as of the summer when Whitney was fired.

The independent outside investigation will begin as early as next week and will take several months to complete.  

Anyone with information is asked to call the Vallejo Police Department Office of Internal Affairs at (707) 648-4695 or complete the citizen’s complaint form by clicking here.

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