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MARTINEZ — A jury at a Contra Costa County coroner’s inquest hearing Friday unanimously found the death of a transient who was shot by a Danville police officer last year to be a homicide.

The jury in the hearing looking at the death of 33-year-old Tyrell Wilson in Danville last year unanimously found that Wilson’s death came “at the hands of another person other than by accident.”

Wilson died in a shooting by former Danville Police Officer Andrew Hall on March 13, 2021, when Hall responded to reports of a man throwing rocks off the Sycamore Valley overpass onto Interstate Highway 680. At the intersection just east of the overpass, Hall confronted the 32-year-old Wilson. Hall’s bodycam footage later showed Wilson was holding a folding knife.

Hall shot and killed Wilson, a transient whose family has said he was mentally ill.

At Friday’s hearing, there was testimony from the members of the county’s Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office, as well as an off-duty San Francisco police officer who witnessed the killing and provided dashcam video that was used as evidence in the hearing.

The Contra Costa County sheriff’s investigator told the jury that the last words spoken by 33-year-old African-American transient Tyrell Wilson were “Kill me.” 

Hall then shot Wilson in the face. Wilson was holding a 4-inch pocket knife and walking toward Hall, who was backpedaling. 

People in the courtroom, which included Wilson’s father, civil rights attorney John Burris, and Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton, were shown videos from three separate angles of Hall confronting Wilson at the intersection of Sycamore Valley Road and Camino Ramon.  

Hall repeatedly told Wilson to get out of the intersection, finally saying he wasn’t going to play “this game.”

Wilson, whose uncle told investigators Wilson was bipolar and suffered from schizophrenia, refused multiple times.  

Wilson asked Hall multiple times who he was, even after Hall identified himself as a police officer. Video showed Wilson also asking “what country is this?” 

Danville Police Officer Jay Melen, then a detective for the Sheriff’s Office, testified Hall later told him during interviews that Hall “was in fear of Mr. Wilson’s safety and wanted to get him to the other side of the intersection.” 

Melen said Hall told investigators Hall noticed Wilson had a knife when the man stopped and turned to face Hall, who shouted for him to drop the knife. Wilson refused. As Wilson took two steps toward Hall, Hall took two steps back and fired his gun.

In the video, Wilson clearly said “kill me” twice, either while, or just before, he stepped toward Hall. 

Melen said Hall told him he didn’t use his pepper spray because of other people in the area and didn’t use his Taser stun gun because it likely wouldn’t work through Wilson’s heavy clothing. He said Hall stated he didn’t use other hand-to-hand measures because of Wilson’s size. 

“He said he drew a line in the sand with Mr. Wilson,” Melen said, adding that Hall said he decided to use his gun once Wilson stepped toward him and began raising his arm holding the knife. 

Forensic pathologist Ikechi Ogan, who did Wilson’s autopsy, said marijuana was the only drug he found in Wilsons’s system.   

Investigators said a few weeks before the altercation, Wilson was thrown out of his uncle’s house in Pittsburg after a physical confrontation with his uncle, who told police at the time Wilson was mentally ill. 

Forensic pathologist Ikechi Ogan, who did Wilson’s autopsy, said marijuana was the only drug he found in Wilsons’s system. 

Wilson’s father Marvin Wilson came from Texas for the hearing. The former Orange County corrections officer said after the hearing that his son was a star athlete in high school whose mental issues started after he suffered serious brain trauma in a car accident that killed his girlfriend.

Tyrell was airlifted to the hospital, where he spent weeks recovering. He went back to football for his senior year, after already receiving scholarship offers from multiple Division I college programs. But he was never the same player, or person, again.

“Suddenly he was making (weak) tackles and would say ‘Dad, I just didn’t want to hurt him.’ That fire was gone, like in ‘Top Gun’ when Tom Cruise lost his partner and was barely engaged.” 

The elder Wilson, now retired, said he’ll be back — especially if Becton decides to charge Hall with any crime. 

“I’m speaking on my son’s behalf and I’m seeking justice for my son because he didn’t deserve to be killed like that,” said Wilson. “Hall did violate my son’s rights. The sheriff’s department needs to be held accountable for that. He was my only son, my only child. I’ve got to be his voice until the end.” 

The reason for the inquest, which is convened after a fatality involving law enforcement in Contra Costa County, was to present facts from the case to a jury for their deliberation and finding on the manner of death.

At the coroner’s inquests, a jury can only choose from one of four options for the death — that it was an accident, suicide, natural causes, or the fourth option that the jury chose Friday, at the hands of another person other than by accident.

Wilson was the second person fatally shot by Hall, who was convicted of assault with a firearm and sentenced this March for the 2018 fatal shooting of Laudemer Arboleda. Hall is currently in prison serving a six-year sentence. 

He could be facing more time behind if the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office decides to charge Hall in Wilson’s death.

“The closure would be criminal prosecution. Criminal prosecution. The man has killed two people and I think it’s important for the family to have that,” Burris said about the DA pursuing charges before the inquest. “The change is officers are trained on best to respond to these kinds of situations.”  

The county has paid a total of $9.4 million in settlement money to Wilson’s and Arboleda’s families, even though Wilson’s killing is still being investigated.

“That body cam footage [is an example of] what not to do. What not to do,” said Wilson, who worked as a correctional officer for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. “The deputies that I worked with there, I worked with some good deputies, I’m sorry but looking from Hall’s experience, he wasn’t good and that’s why we’re here.”  

This content was originally published here.

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