VALLEJO (KPIX 5) — In the midst of a national upheaval over police violence, the city of Vallejo is once again investigating a fatal police shooting.
22-year-old San Francisco resident Sean Monterrosa was shot and killed by officers early Tuesday morning as police responded to looting at a Walgreens. He became the 17th death involving Vallejo police officers since 2011.
Monterrosa was shot by an officer who mistakenly thought the hammer he had in his pocket was a gun.
“The officer who discharged his weapon has been placed on routine, paid administrative leave,” Chief Shawny Williams explained during a press conference Wednesday that turned contentious and ended in a shouting match.
After saying during the press conference that Monterrosa was shot while in a kneeling position, Williams issued an emailed statement that appeared to clarify his earlier comments.
The statement said the suspect “abruptly turned toward the officers, crouching down in a half-kneeling position as if in preparation to shoot, and moving his hands toward his waist area near what appeared to be the butt of a handgun.”
The names of those killed are now well known among Vallejo residents.
“Just a year ago, Willie McCoy was shot 55 times in his car,” one resident recounted when speaking of the city’s history of violence.
Beyond the fatal shootings, there have been other incidents, like the man who was violently arrested while recording video of an arrest on his phone from his front porch. Given this history, the Monterrosa case has been met with some immediate skepticism and outrage by locals.
“This is what happens,” said Vallejo resident Maui Phil. “The Vallejo PD has been a problem. You can look historically they have been problematic and there’s been nothing done. The only thing that’s changed is now we have a black chief and a black public information officer.”
Chief Shawny Williams has led the department for just six months. He was hired in November from San Jose.
“I want to listen to what the community wants and what they need, and to develop that dialogue,” Chief Williams said upon being sworn in back in November.
On Wednesday, the Chief was asked about his reform efforts.
“Since I’ve been here, in the city of Vallejo, we’ve made many changes,” Williams said Wednesday. “In terms of our de-escalation policy and terms of our body-worn camera policy, in terms of the way that we analyze and look at force.”
There is some suspicion that the city’s history is what made it a target Monday night and early Tuesday. Police have described the rampant looting as an organized attack on the city.
Thursday night the National Guard is back on the streets in case there is more trouble. What do neighbors think of this sight?
“I get kind of intimidated and kind of a little nervous because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Jermaine Wallace said as the troop carriers rolled down his street. “To me it seems like we’re getting under Marshal Law.”
As for the shooting investigation, it is now in the hands of the Solano County District Attorney’s office. By state law, body camera video of the Tuesday morning shooting must be released within 45 days.