Bay Area police officer shoots looting suspect

Clay Curtis
June 6, 2020

The announcement comes amid a heightened call for police reform nationally following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco was the first confirmed death at the hands of law enforcement in California related to stealing from stores since Floyd's death.

An officer mistook the hammer for the butt of a gun and shot him because he "perceived a threat", said Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams.

Monterrosa reached for his waist area, police said, and an officer in a police vehicle shot him five times through the windshield, striking him once. Monterrosa was stopped and crouched down in a half-kneeling position facing officers, police said, and it was later discovered he had a hammer in his sweatshirt pocket.

"The intent was to stop the looting and to arrest any perpetrators if necessary", Williams said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Melissa Nold, an attorney whose firm has represented several families whose loved ones have died at the hands of Vallejo police, said she's thankful that Becerra is throwing the weight of his office behind reform.

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The 18-year veteran who shot Monterrosa has been placed on leave pending the investigation.

"It's always a tragedy anytime an officer has to use force", he added.

Chief Williams says the department must release bodycam footage of the incident within 45 days, although he expects that footage to emerge even sooner.

"Our communities are safer when our police departments can build public trust through good policies, practices, and training", Becerra said in a statement. He claimed 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa was suspected of trying to break into a local Walgreens. Not to mention, Williams chose not to condemn the officer involved in the shooting.

Monterrosa's death is a clear example of excessive force used by police both during the national protests and more broadly on a day-to-day basis.

Williams held the news conference at Vallejo City Hall, which was undergoing repairs after someone broke into the building and lit a fire inside on Monday night.

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