VALLEJO (CBS SF) — Police in Vallejo on Wednesday released body camera footage of the fatal officer-involved shooting on June 2 that left unarmed San Francisco resident Sean Monterrosa dead.
22-year-old Monterrosa was killed early the morning of June 2 by an officer arriving at a Vallejo looting scene outside of a Walgreens pharmacy on the 1000 block of Redwood Street.
The officer fired five times through the windshield of his police vehicle at Monterrosa when he thought he saw the crouching suspect reaching for an object in his waistband that he thought was a gun. As it turned out, the object was in fact a hammer.
Vallejo Police Body Cam Video: Shooting Of Sean Monterrosa (Warning: Disturbing images, graphic language)
The video is silent at first. Part of the police body cam video is from the perspective of a detective who was sitting in the back seat of a pickup truck.
He opens fire through the front windshield of the moving vehicle. Once the audio comes back on, an officer is heard saying he thought the suspect was armed.
“What did he point at us? Hey, he pointed a gun at us,” the officer is heard saying in the clip.
What the video does not show is Monterrosa in the moment of the confrontation with the officers.
A press conference about the officer-involved shooting the day after the incident ended abruptly when Vallejo residents began shouting at the police chief over what they felt was excessive force.
A few days after the fatal incident, the Vallejo Police Officer’s Association announced it was backing the officer involved in the shooting.
During a Wednesday press conference following the release of the video, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams noted that some people were saying that officers did not have their body cameras on in the incident. He maintained that was not accurate.
“All the body-worn cameras of the officers in the pick-up truck were on. Anybody will see that when they watch the video,” said Williams.
KPIX 5 reporter Joe Vazquez asked the chief if it was appropriate for the officer to shoot from a moving car through the front windshield.
“When an officer discharges his weapon, there are laws that govern that. And so we have an investigation,” said Williams. “A criminal investigation and an administrative investigation. For me to draw any conclusions at this point would be inappropriate.”
When asked by a reporter if the body-camera footage didn’t suggest that officers might be operating with a “shoot first and ask questions later” policy, Williams said he was unable to comment as the incident remained under investigation.
Attorney John Burris said Monterrosa was in the process of surrendering when he was shot.
“In my way of thinking, they shot and killed a man. They haven’t given us any video and they’ve given us conflicting statements about what actually happened,” said Burris.
Burris is representing Monterrosa’s family, who he says is planning to sue the department.
“There was a reckless disregard for this kid’s life because there was tension in the air,” Burris said. “The officer was not out of the car; Sean was not chasing him, not threatening him. Looting is not a justification for the use of deadly force.”
A restraining order is in effect in the case to keep the officer who pulled the trigger from being named publicly out of concerns for his safety and the safety of his family. When asked if the officer was currently on paid leave or still working, the chief said he was unable to respond due to the same restraining order.