VALLEJO (CBS SF) — State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Friday night that his office will launch an investigation of the alleged destruction of evidence in the June 2 Vallejo officer-involved shooting of Sean Monterrosa.
Monterrosa was fatally shot by a Vallejo police officer from inside a moving patrol vehicle while allegedly attempting to loot a Walgreens store during a night of violence sparked by the outrage over the police death of George Floyd.
The bullet-hole riddled windshield from the patrol car has been destroyed instead of being preserved as evidence. Two employees have been placed on leave and officials are asking how it could have happened.
“I am deeply disappointed with the turn of events that led to the windshield not being preserved,” said Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams in a Friday night statement. “It is a priority for our department to conduct a thorough investigation and provide the transparency that our community expects and deserves. It is our hope that the State Attorney General’s Office can provide clarity in this investigation.”
However, Becerra’s announcement fell short of the demands of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in the case. The state, at least for now, will not be launching an investigation of the actual shooting.
The Vallejo Police Department has a history of controversial use-of-force incidents, including deadly shootings, and last month Becerra announced his agency would do a comprehensive review of the department’s policies, but not separate incidents.
Vallejo Police Body Cam Video: Shooting Of Sean Monterrosa (Warning: Disturbing images, graphic language)
Meanwhile, Pelosi has called for an FBI investigation of the Monterrosa case and that of a second officer-involved shooting.
“The police killing of Sean Monterrosa was a horrible act of brutality that continues to shake our Bay Area community,” said Pelosi in a prepared statement. “Recent reports that key evidence in the investigation was destroyed are deeply disturbing and highlight the urgency and necessity of an outside, independent federal investigation.”
“I join Sean’s family, Vallejo city officials and community members in calling for an FBI investigation into Sean’s murder, including into the destruction of essential evidence in this homicide case,” Pelosi said.
Monterrosa, a 22-year-old San Francisco resident, was shot and killed by an officer in June as police responded to looting at a Walgreens. The officer who shot him through the windshield of the moving police car claimed he thought Monterrosa had a gun, but it turned out he had a hammer.
Vallejo Interim City Attorney Randy Risner sent a letter Thursday calling on District Attorney Krishna Abrams to complete reviews of the officer-involved shootings of Monterrosa and of Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old rap artist who died in a hail of bullets in a fast-food drive-thru in February 2019 after he had passed out with a gun on his lap.
Abrams recused herself from the investigations last month, and earlier this week she reiterated her recusal, saying it was “due to the perceived conflict of handling either one of them.”
Becerra has been reluctant to enter the shooting investigation, sending a letter to Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff saying he believes the DA is the appropriate and obligated authority.
“As we have informed the District Attorney’s Office, there is no legal basis for it to recuse itself,” the letter said. “It is absolutely critical that the shootings of Mr. McCoy and Mr. Monterossa receive thorough, fair and objective evaluations by the prosecuting authority charged with carrying out the duty. The elected District Attorney in Solano County is that authority.”