Vallejo Police Release Video of Deadly Shooting of Sean Monterrosa

1 min
A still from body camera footage taken by the driver of an unmarked Vallejo police pickup truck shows the muzzle of the rifle an officer sitting in the back seat used to shoot Sean Monterrosa through the vehicle's windshield on June 2. Multiple bullet holes can be seen in the windshield. (Vallejo Police Dept.)

This report contains a correction.

The Vallejo Police Department released footage Wednesday from police body cameras showing pieces of a chaotic confrontation in a Walgreens parking lot and an officer firing an automatic rifle from the backseat of an unmarked police pickup truck, fatally striking a 22-year-old San Francisco man.

Police posted video of Sean Monterrosa's June 2 shooting over a month after his death, despite calls by those in Vallejo and beyond to do so immediately. The full video was released on the city of Vallejo's Vimeo page.

According to police, the Walgreens on Redwood Street in Vallejo had been broken into earlier that evening — the fourth night of protests throughout the Bay Area in reaction to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis — as well as a few days before, when a surveillance camera that might have captured the shooting was destroyed.

Videos from three Vallejo police detectives riding in the pickup truck do not show what Monterrosa was doing when the officer in the back seat fired his rifle through the windshield. Police have said Monterrosa stopped, took a kneeling position and placed his hands above his waist — revealing what an officer believed to be a gun.

The suspected gun was a 15-inch hammer tucked into Monterrosa's sweatshirt pocket.

The videos show an officer appearing to mount and aim his rifle through the windshield while the police pickup truck is still moving, just as it arrives on the scene. The officer appears to fire the five shots at the moment the vehicle comes to a stop.

Footage from a body camera worn by the Vallejo police detective who shot Sean Monterrosa shows the moment he fired his rifle through the windshield of a police truck.
Footage from a body camera worn by the Vallejo police detective who shot Sean Monterrosa shows the moment he fired his rifle through the windshield of a police truck. (Vallejo Police Dept.)

The shooting officer, whose identity has yet to be confirmed by the Vallejo Police Department, can be heard on the video asking, "What did he point at us?"

"I don't know man," another officer responds.

"Hey, he pointed a gun at us," the shooting officer shouts. He then again asks another officer, "You see a gun on him?"

"No, I did not see a gun," the officer responds.

Monterrosa was fatally struck once in the neck, according to an attorney representing his family, who has viewed Monterrosa's body.

"Oh, fu...," the shooting officer begins to say on video, then stops as he and two other officers approach Monterrosa, who is seen crumpled on the ground in the pharmacy's parking lot. "Stupid!" he says a few seconds later, before dropping his rifle and running to retrieve a first aid kit.

The officer who fired starts to grunt and speak in halting phrases about a minute later, when he returns to where another officer is performing CPR on Monterrosa.

"He came around, came right at us," he says. He then retrieves his rifle and starts to join other officers clearing the Walgreens, but stops and talks to a police captain who arrived at the pharmacy at about the same time in a different vehicle.

"I thought that fucking ax was a gun," the officer says.

"I thought he was armed, too, dude," the captain says, before telling the officer to take deep breaths.

"You'll be alright," the captain tells the officer. "You've been through this before."

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Open Vallejo, an independent organization that has fought for the release of public documents involving Vallejo Police, said it confirmed with multiple sources that Detective Jarrett Tonn was the officer who shot Monterrosa. Reporters with the East Bay Times and Vallejo Times Herald also identified Tonn as the shooting officer, citing unnamed law enforcement sources. Tonn has shot and injured two other suspects since 2015, and he shot at but missed a third, the newspapers reported.

At no point in the videos released Wednesday is the shooting officer shown being separated from other involved officers, which is standard procedure for most California police agencies.

Monterrosa's shooting is the first by a Vallejo officer since Shawny Williams, a 26-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department, became the city's police chief. Some Vallejo residents hoped Williams could usher in a new era for the embattled department, which has seen several high-profile police shootings of Black and brown men in recent years — none of which have led to prosecution or discipline.

Monterrosa's sisters said Williams has given contradictory accounts of what prompted the officer to fire.

"Everyone's playing hot potato over my brother's death," Michelle Monterrosa said after seeing the video. "Sean deserves to be here. ... It just shows how the system continues to fail us all."

Williams previously described Monterrosa as kneeling when the officer fired, with his hands above his waist. He said Wednesday that Monterrosa was "in a crouching, half-kneeling position. His hands were toward his waistband."

Monterrosa's death during a national uprising over police killings of Black and brown people drew new attention to the Bay Area department with a long history of violence and a high rate of police shootings.

Vallejo Police Shootings

Vallejo Police have shot more people per capita than neighboring Bay Area cities. The Police Department has long been an outlier. A KQED investigation found that in 2012, Vallejo police killed people at a rate 38 times the national average, with a single officer fatally shooting three people in questionable circumstances over a five-month period.

Days after Monterrosa was killed, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced his office would "review and reform" the Vallejo Police Department. The voluntary review was being considered before Monterrosa's death, the attorney general said, and stops short of court-ordered reforms.

Becerra's office later declined Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams' request to investigate the slaying of Monterrosa.

Abrams then recused herself and her office from the case, as well as the 2019 slaying of Willie McCoy by Vallejo police officers. She called again for the state Attorney General to investigate, citing a "perceived conflict" in the District Attorney's Office and a lack of trust "from some community members."

The officers involved in shooting have been placed on routine, paid administrative leave, though Vallejo police have not publicly identified them.

The Police Department is legally barred from identifying officers involved in Monterrosa's death, due to a temporary restraining order obtained by the Vallejo officer's union, Chief Williams said Wednesday.

District Attorney Abrams recently told KQED she has always supported law enforcement and community members victimized by crime, but that "neither has affected my ability to objectively review and make decisions on cases."

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Some Vallejo residents are disappointed over the handling of Monterrosa's shooting so far, criticizing the city for dragging its feet on the release of both body camera footage and the name of the officer who fired their weapon. Among those at Williams' June 3 first press conference on the shooting was Alicia Saddler, whose brother Angel Ramos was shot and killed by Vallejo police in 2017.

"At what point do you arrest him, and make an example out of all these officers?" she yelled at Williams. "Fire him! Not paid leave, fire him for killing a man that was on his knees!"

July 8: The original version of this report contained an inaccurately transcribed quote. The story has been edited to correct the inaccuracy.