VALLEJO, Calif. — The police chief of a San Francisco Bay Area city under scrutiny after several fatal police shootings said he is opening an inquiry into allegations that officers bent their badges to mark on-duty killings.

Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams told the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday that he would not tolerate such a “despicable” act if the claims are true.

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 by the paper, almost 40% of the department’s officers had been involved in a shooting as of the summer when Whitney was fired.

Vallejo police made national headlines in June after an officer shot and killed Sean Monterrosa.

Monterrosa, 22, was “half-kneeling,” Chief Williams said, when a Vallejo police officer shot him through the windshield of his police cruiser during the early hours of Tuesday, June 2.

The Vallejo police chief later said his officer shot Monterrosa after mistaking a hammer that was in Monterrosa’s pocket for a gun.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.