On Tuesday, Vallejo police reportedly shot and killed Sean Monterrosa, a 22-year-old man who they wrongly suspected of having a firearm outside of a Walgreens. The news comes amid protests surrounding police brutality and racial injustice.
According to San Francisco Chronicle, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said that an officer opened fire due to the “perceived threat” of what they thought was a handgun in Monterrosa’s waistband. They later realized it was a hammer. The officer who shot Monterrosa was sitting in his vehicle and fired five times through his windshield. Monterrosa, who is Latino, was on his knees when the policeman shot him.
“This individual appeared to be running toward the black sedan but suddenly stopped, taking a kneeling position and placing his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a handgun,” Williams said.
The chief said that the cops had seen people who they suspected to be stealing in the parking lot of the Walgreens leaving in several cars. One car hit a police vehicle while, according to Williams, at the same time officers saw Monterrosa near the building.
Attorney John Burris, who is representing Monterrosa’s family, pointed out that Moterrosa wasn’t doing anything with his hands that were an immediate threat. “He did not see Mr. Monterrosa put his hands on it in a threatening way. So the question here is what threat, if any, did he actually present?” Burris said.
“This young man was shot multiple times while he was on his knees and appeared to be trying to surrender,” he added. “…One has to maintain control and you don’t get to arbitrarily shoot someone in a panic, just because the situation is excitable.”
Monterrosa’s death is a clear example of excessive force used by police both during the national protests and more broadly on a day-to-day basis. Donald Trump has chastised city leaders for “weak” leadership and promised to use the military against its own citizens to stop demonstrations. Meanwhile, the same tactics of brutality and intimidation that protesters have been voicing their frustrations about are being used on the ground, leading to deaths like Monterrosa’s, and perpetuating a cycle of police misconduct and violence.
Correction, June 4 at 12:20 p.m. ET: The headline was changed for accuracy purposes. Monterrosa died in Vallejo, which is in the San Francisco Bay Area.