Pelosi: 'Murder' of Sean Monterrosa a 'Horrible Act of Brutality'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a scathing indictment of the Vallejo Police Department Friday, and called for an FBI investigation into the killing of Sean Monterrosa, an 22-year-old man shot multiple times by police in early June.

"The police killing of Sean Monterrosa was a horrible act of brutality that continues to shake our Bay Area community," Pelosi said in a statement Friday. "Recent reports that key evidence in the investigation was destroyed are deeply disturbing and highlight the urgency and necessity of an outside, independent federal investigation."

Pelosi called Monterrosa's death a "murder," and criticized the "destruction of essential evidence" in the investigation.

Early in the morning on June 2, Vallejo police responded to calls of looting at a Walgreens on Redwood Street in Vallejo, amid Bay Area-wide protests against police brutality. According to officers, Monterrosa exited the store and took a kneeling position, placing his hands above his waist — revealing an object officers mistook for a gun — as a police pickup truck approached.

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Police video footage released over a month after the incident shows an officer in the back of the truck appearing to aim his rifle toward the windshield while the vehicle is still moving. The officer — whose name has not yet been released — then appears to fire five rounds, one of which hits Monterrosa. In the footage, the officer is later heard asking other officers, “What did he point at us?” before saying, “Hey, he pointed a gun at us.”

Officers later discovered that the object in question was a 15-inch hammer tucked into Monterrosa's sweatshirt pocket.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday announced his office will investigate the Vallejo Police Department for destroying evidence from the scene of the shooting. The announcement comes two days after Vallejo officials acknowledged that the windshield of the police pickup truck had been destroyed.

The Vallejo city manager’s office also said the vehicle is now back in use, a breach of protocol.

Becerra had previously declined to investigate the shooting, but said his office is now stepping in to restore the public’s trust. For that to happen, he said in a statement, "each and every part of our criminal justice system must operate in cohesion and there’s little room for error."

The investigation is separate from an existing review by the California Department of Justice of the Vallejo Police Department’s practices.

Vallejo city officials also announced last Wednesday they are seeking a criminal investigation into the Police Department's destruction of the windshield.

Laura Monterrosa, mother of Sean, speaks on on July 11, 2020, during a protest for justice for her son and others killed by the Vallejo Police Department. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

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Earlier this month, Monterrosa's family called for the police to release footage from other police officers and nearby businesses for the sake of transparency.

Pelosi said the entire incident is proof positive of the need for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would end qualified immunity for police, ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants and limit the types of military equipment police could use on the street, among other police reforms.

"Sean’s killing highlights the urgent need for the Senate to pass the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which will fundamentally transform the culture of policing in America as it saves lives," Pelosi said. “May Sean’s memory be a source of strength to all as we seek justice in his name. May it be a comfort to his family and loved ones that so many in our city mourn with and pray for them during this devastating time.”