VALLEJO (CBS SF) — A city employee has been placed on leave after investigators looking into the death of Sean Monterrosa – shot by a Vallejo police officer from inside a moving patrol vehicle – discovered the windshield from the patrol car with bullet holes had been destroyed and not preserved as evidence in the case.
According to a press release from the Vallejo City Manager’s office, “The city has discovered that the windshield … has been destroyed and the vehicle has since been placed back into service without prior consultation with the police chief or city attorney’s office.”
Last week, Vallejo police released body camera footage from the incident showing an officer from the back seat of a police SUV opening fire through the front windshield as it pulled up to a scene of looting at a Walgreens on June 2. Monterrosa, who was not armed but had a hammer, was shot in the head and killed.
Vallejo Police Body Cam Video: Shooting Of Sean Monterrosa (Warning: Disturbing images, graphic language)
“It was egregious, it was outrageous behavior,” said attorney Melissa Nord who represents the Monterrosa family. “To me it was really a great example of why the police shouldn’t be policing themselves.”
The City of Vallejo has already requested the Solano County District Attorney’s office and the Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office conduct the criminal investigation into the shooting death. On Wednesday, Becerra denied the request in a letter to the city manager. District Attorney Krishna Adams has already recused herself from the investigation.
The city has now requested the destruction of evidence to be included as part of the investigation, according to a statement from the city.
“It’s an appropriate start as a response to this,” Nord said “They took the first opportunity to destroy evidence that was necessary to do scene recreation, to be able to have a professional expert come and evaluate the veracity of the officer’s statements. Now we have no ability to do that ever.”
The FBI has also been contacted about the destruction of evidence, according to the city.
The employee placed on administrative leave was not identified and the city said it has retained an outside investigator to probe the destruction of evidence.
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.