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Nancy Pelosi’s demands of justice for Sean Monterrosa come a month too late

The Speaker of the House called the 22-year old’s killing a “horrible act of brutality,” and urged the FBI to investigate.

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It took more than a month and a potential criminal act by the Vallejo police department, but the killing of Sean Monterrosa in Vallejo, California by officer Jarrett Tonn is finally getting some of the national attention it deserves.

On Friday, July 17, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement calling on the FBI to take up the investigation of Monterrosa’s shooting.

“The police killing of Sean Monterrosa was a horrible act of brutality that continues to shake our Bay Area community,” read part of the statement.

Pelosi continued to call the Vallejo PD’s destruction of evidence following the shooting “deeply disturbing” and further emphasized the need for an outside, independent investigator to take over the case.

For context, the windshield that Tonn shot through five times at Monterrosa using a rifle was destroyed following the incident. The employee that destroyed the windshield has yet to be named and is on leave from the department.

Tonn had mistook a hammer in Monterrosa’s sweatshirt pocket for a handgun, and body cam footage of the shooting released a month later picks up the officer questioning whether the 22-year-old had pointed a gun at them.

Police allege Monterrosa’s crouching motion before he was shot in the head was misinterpreted by officers to seem like he was readying to pull a firearm.

“We must insist on justice and accountability to honor Sean’s life and the lives of all killed by police brutality in America,” reads another part of Pelosi’s statement.

Since June 2 when he was killed, both of those things have been hard to come by for Monterrosa’s family.

Both California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Office and Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams have denied taking up the case. Becerra’s office will investigate the destruction of the windshield, but expressed confidence in Abrams’ office before she recused herself.

In response to the recusal, the interim city attorney for Vallejo released a statement calling Abrams actions “unlawful” and demanded she reconsider taking up the case.

“Your recusal violates your obligations as an elected District Attorney and the Solano County Officer Involved Fatal Incident Protocol, which you signed and to which you must adhere,” the statement says.

It also calls the recusal a political move that makes justice more difficult for the administration in Vallejo, but more importantly Monterrosa’s family.

One can hope that’s ultimately what Pelosi wants for his family too, but the same criticism of politicking can also be leveled against her. 

Her statement on Monterrosa comes more than a month after his death, and a major part of her short, three paragraph statement on the matter is to drive home that the Senate needs to pass the House’s George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

The potential landmark legislation was introduced on June 9, seven days after Monterrosa’s killing.

“The martyrdom of George Floyd gave the American experience a moment of national anguish, as we grieve for the Black Americans killed by police brutality,” Pelosi said on the day the bill was introduced.

When it passed the House on June 26, she struck a similar tone to her short Monterrosa statement.

"Today, with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the House is honoring his life and the lives of all killed by police brutality, and pledging: never again," she said at the time.

Two days before it passed, Senate Democrats shot down the Republican effort at police reform, going against Republican hopes (whether serious or not is unclear) at a bipartisan agreement.

Since, Pelosi has mounted more and more pressure onto Senate Republicans to consider their police reform bill, most likely to no avail. Throwing Monterrosa’s name into the mix is yet another effort on that front.

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