Police kill a young Latino on his knees in California
Sean Monterrosa was shot after officers mistook a hammer in his sweatshirt for a gun.
On the night of June 2, Vallejo, CA, the city just a little more than a half hour drive outside of San Francisco looked like many across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis.
People were angry, and the police and some surrounding storefronts were the targets of their ire.
As crowds surrounded the police station in Vallejo, police responded to a report of looting at a Walgreens in another part of town.
When police arrived at the pharmacy, they reported approximately 10 to 15 looters in the area. One of them, appearing to be armed, made a dash for a black sedan before kneeling down once at the vehicle.
According to Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams, as the individual kneeled, it revealed what appeared to be the butt of a gun on his waist. The individual would later be identified as 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa, a Latino and San Francisco resident.
Seeing the scene unfold, an officer in the responding patrol car fired five times through his vehicle’s windshield at the kneeling Monterrosa, killing him. The shooting occurred around 12:30 a.m. on June 2.
“Investigations later revealed that the weapon was a long, 15-inch hammer, tucked into the pocket of a sweatshirt,” said Williams, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Vallejo PD didn’t release details on the shooting until a press conference on Wednesday, June 3, during which they also requested 50 national guard troops to help deal with uprisings.
When questioned about the potential excessive use of force, Williams deferred to his record of trying to improve Vallejo’s Police Department since joining.
“I would like to say since I’ve been here in the city of Vallejo, we have made many changes in terms of our de-escalation policy, in terms of our body-worn camera policy,” he said.
When pressed further about the use of the de-escalation policy in the shooting of Monterrosa, a Latino, Williams said the officer was “responding to a perceived threat.”
It’s a defense that’s been used countless times around the country to get police officers off after they’ve shot and killed someone.
The officer who killed Monterrosa was an 18-year veteran on the force and has been placed on administrative leave.
Williams has promised to expedite the release of body camera footage in the name of transparency.
Monterrosa’s death at the hands of police will only make protesters angrier in Vallejo, having been given yet another name to shout alongside George Floyd’s.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to pay for Monterrosa’s funeral cost.