VALLEJO (CBS SF) — In the wake of several officer-involved shootings including the death of Sean Monterrosa this week, Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced on Friday that his agency would do a comprehensive review of the Vallejo Police Department’s use of deadly force policies.
A press release issued by Becerra’s office said the review would aim to improve the department’s use-of-force procedures, anti-bias and community policing and accountability by focusing on training, policy and transparency.READ MORE: Evacuation Warnings Issued for San Mateo County Areas Burned by CZU Lightning Complex Fire
“Our communities are safer when our police departments can build public trust through good policies, practices, and training. This review and reform agreement we announce today with the City of Vallejo represents a critical step the Vallejo Police Department must take to build trust with people who have lost faith in them,” Becerra said in the release. “When our communities speak up, we must listen — and, in recent days, people across California and the nation, and in Vallejo have bravely come together to make their voices heard. This is only a first step in our broader fight for racial justice. We must all do our part, and we must do it now.”
Vallejo city officials announce early Friday evening that the 8 p.m. curfew that had been in place this week had been lifted.
Monterrosa, a 22-year-old San Francisco resident, 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.
He was shot by an officer who mistakenly thought the hammer he had in his pocket was a gun. The officer-involved shooting took place during a night of violence and looting in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis.
After saying during the press conference that Monterrosa was shot while in a kneeling position, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny 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 in officer-involved shootings are now well known among Vallejo residents.READ MORE: Police Investigation of Shattered Vehicle Windows Temporarily Shuts Highway 17 Saturday
“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.”
The loss of public trust is what Becerra wants to repair.
“Our communities are safer when our police departments can build public trust through good policies, practices, and training,” the attorney general said on a news release. “This review and reform agreement we announce today with the City of Vallejo represents a critical step the Vallejo Police Department must take to build trust with people who have lost faith in them,”
The review will recommend improvements in use-of-force procedures, anti-bias and community policing, and accountability by focusing on training, policy, and transparency in alignment with national standards, best practices, current and emerging research and community expectations.
“When our communities speak up, we must listen — and, in recent days, people across California and the nation, and in Vallejo have bravely come together to make their voices heard,” Becerra said. “This is only a first step in our broader fight for racial justice. We must all do our part, and we must do it now.”
Williams said his department already was already implementing policy changes.MORE NEWS: Russian River Rubber Dam Deflated Due to Impending Storm
“As Chief, I have already implemented a stronger body-worn camera policy, an improved de-escalation policy, and a program to regularly analyze use-of-force data, but the biggest steps are ahead of us,” he said. “I welcome all voices to the table. We are stronger together.”