Dozens of protesters marched through Danville on Sunday, coming out to condemn the death of 32-year-old Tyrell Wilson, who died after he was shot by a Danville police officer on March 11.
Wilson's family, social justice advocates and community members gathered for a walking rally that ended outside the Danville Police Department headquarters, where attendees spoke of Wilson and called for justice.
Wilson, a Black man living unhoused near the freeway in Danville at the time of the shooting, was shot by Danville police Officer Andrew Hall at the intersection of Sycamore Valley Road and Camino Ramon on March 11.
The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office alleges Wilson advanced knife-in-hand toward Hall, who was responding to a report that Wilson was throwing rocks from an overpass onto Interstate 680. Wilson succumbed to his injuries at the hospital during the next week.
"I want to start off by saying Tyrell, he was a good kid," said Wilson's father Marvin, who is a 31-year law enforcement veteran. "I loved that boy to death."
"A lot of people that I work with, our main goal first thing -- if it takes 15 minutes, if it takes an hour -- (is to) de-escalate. These younger officers, deputies they're trigger-happy. And the thing is they're not just going after people like me, they're going after people that have mental issues going on and a lot of this can be solved by deescalation and they are not doing that," Marvin Wilson added.
Protesters began their march at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Sycamore Valley Park and Ride, near which Tyrell Wilson had been living outdoors, before marching through the town to the police station while accompanied by a police escort that cleared the roads ahead of them.
Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris, who represents Wilson's family, also spoke at the protest and contested police's claims revolved around the shooting, stating that he has been in contact with an eyewitness that directly contradicts the sheriff's office accounts.
"After hearing all that I have heard about Tyrell, he was a decent man, polite and kind," Burris said. "I want to say this, the witnesses that I have interviewed have said that Tyrell did not have a knife in his hand at the time and he was not attempting to strike police, Tyrell's hands were up ... and he was shot and it was a kill shot, directly to his face."
"For those of you in this community who knew that he was homeless, some of you knew him from that environment and you knew what a kind and respectful person he was, so this issue that the police claim that he had a knife and he tried to attack with a knife seems totally out of character," he added.
Sheriff's spokesperson Jimmy Lee declined to comment on the allegations.
On the day of the shooting, investigators released a photograph with their press release which they said showed Wilson approaching the officer with a knife. The photo (which had the subject's face blocked out by editing software) appeared to be pulled from a police body camera; the video footage of the incident has not been released.
Hall, who has worked as a sworn law enforcement officer for 7-1/2 years, is employed as a sheriff's deputy and assigned to Danville PD under the town's contract with the county for police services. He is on paid administrative leave while Wilson's death is being investigated by the county's sheriff's office and district attorney's office.
Hall is the same Danville police officer who fatally shot 33-year-old Newark resident Laudemer Arboleda at close range while Arboleda tried to drive around police vehicles trying to block his path in downtown Danville on Nov. 3, 2018. Burris also represents Arboleda's family, which has sued over his death.