Vallejo police fatally shot San Francisco resident Sean Monterrosa early Tuesday morning. On Thursday, Chief Shawny Williams said the 22-year-old had already kneeled on the ground when the officer saw what allegedly looked to be a gun in his sweatshirt—but it was actually a hammer, KABC-TV reports.
Monterrosa knelt outside a Walgreens he was suspected of breaking into when the officer shot at him five times through his car windshield, one shot killing Sean.
Williams said that it appeared as if Monterrosa was trying to flee the scene in a car but changed his mind.
“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 handgun investigations later revealed that the weapon was a long 15-inch hammer tucked into the pocket of his sweatshirt,” Chief Williams said during the press conference.
The cop who shot Monterrosa hasn’t been identified. Williams said the officer has been on the force for 18 years.
“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,” said Monterrosa family attorney John Burris. The police say the 22-year-old was allegedly involved in looting the Walgreens, as protests have expanded to all 50 states.
Williams mentioned that the department has undergone changes since he came on, particularly to its de-escalation policy. When asked how de-escalation was used here, he said, “Well I'll say this. When they responded to the Walgreens the intent was to stop the looting and to arrest the perpetrators if necessary, the officers reacted to a perceived threat.”
The department has 45 days to release body camera footage but Williams wants to issue it sooner. He also wouldn’t answer whether or not he thought the shooting was excessive force.
“Like I said the District Attorney is going to look at this and our internal affairs will look at it,” he said. “The Solano District Attorney will make the ultimate finding if the force was legal.”
The officer who killed Monterrosa and the witness officers have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Since hearing of Sean's death, many are now calling for justice, particularly as police have killed more black and brown people during protests.