OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that his justice department will be conducting an independent review of the shooting death of Sean Monterrosa to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
The announcement comes after the Solano County District Attorney declined to conduct a review of the Vallejo Police Department’s investigation of the incident.
Without accountability, there is no justice.
It’s past time Sean Monterrosa’s family, the community, and the people of Vallejo get some answers. They deserve to know where the case stands. Instead, they’ve been met with silence. It’s time for that to change; it’s time for action. Seeing the failure of the District Attorney to fulfill this important responsibility, my office will review the case to ensure a fair, thorough, and transparent process is completed. This is the right thing to do and I will go where the facts lead. Rebuilding trust in our institutions starts with the actions of each and every one of us. If there has been wrongdoing, we will bring it to light.California Attorney General Rob Bonta
Historically, officer-involved shootings in California have been primarily handled by the state’s 58 district attorneys in the jurisdictions where the incidents occur.
“I’ve been calling for an independent investigation of this tragic case since the beginning, and I am glad Attorney General Bonta has taken this necessary step,” said California Sen. Bill Dodd, who represents the 3rd Senate District. “It’s crucial that we have a thorough and impartial review of the facts and get accountability for any wrongdoing.”
On June 2, 2020, police responded to Walgreens on the 1000 block of Redwood Street in Vallejo at 12:30 a.m. following reports of possible looting. When they arrived — two cars took off, one of the vehicles striking a police cruiser.
Video later released showed Jarett Tonn had fired five shots through the windshield of an unmarked vehicle, striking Monterrosa and killing him.
Tonn shot Monterrosa after mistaking a hammer in his pocket for a gun, said Vallejo police chief Shawny Williams.
Monterrosa was on his knees with his hands raised when he was killed.
The incident raised even more controversy after the City of Vallejo announced it was seeking a criminal investigation into its police department for destruction of evidence in the case.
The windshield of the Vallejo police car involved in the shooting death of Monterrosa was destroyed, officials announced on July 15. The vehicle was then placed back into service without prior consultation with the Police Chief or City Attorney’s Office.
The shooting has now gained nationwide attention.
On July 17, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Vallejo city officials in calling for a FBI investigation into the police killing.
She called the shooting a “horrible act of brutality that continues to shake our Bay Area community.”
The actions announced today are separate from the California Department of Justice’s ongoing civil review of the Vallejo Police Department’s policies and practices.
Solano County District Attorney General Krishna Abrams issued a statement later Thursday, accusing Bonta of playing politics:
Attorney General Bonta within weeks of being appointed is already playing politics with one of the most critical and divisive issues in our communities today- officer involved fatalities. It is beyond disappointing that we can’t trust the statements of the Attorney General.
Today, I spoke to Attorney General Bonta at 10:00 am regarding our newly implemented Major Crimes Task Force and volunteered to work with his office regarding Assembly Bill 1506. Under AB 1506, the Attorney General is required to investigate incidents of an officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian. We then spoke about the review of the officer involved shooting of Sean Monterrosa that occurred on June 2, 2020, in the city of Vallejo, and whether the Attorney General was going to review the case in light of the passage of Assembly Bill 1506. Mr. Bonta stated that his department would not be reviewing the case due to funding not being available until July 1st.
Within an hour of my telephone conference this morning with Mr. Bonta, he notified me that his department would be reviewing the case, completely reversing himself, and now suddenly blaming Solano County for failing to do its job by not reviewing the matter. This is a material misrepresentation and could not be further from the truth. Since the shooting, there has been an overwhelming public outcry and sentiment by a broad spectrum of members of our community, Mr. Monterrosa’s family, and local, state and federal officials demanding the AG’s Office review of this officer involved fatality. Despite DOJ’s decision to oversee the Vallejo Police Department, DOJ’s decision to review an evidentiary portion of the Monterrosa case, and the newly implemented law giving authority to the AG to review these officer involved shootings, the AG’s Office has failed to act over the past year and has failed to listen to the will of the People.
Having been on the job for less than one month, it is of significant concern that Attorney General Bonta would criticize our office for wanting to ensure that the people of Solano County have complete confidence in the integrity of the investigation. In every case, we seek a full, fair, independent and unbiased investigation for all parties, and that a fair, unbiased, independent and objective decision is made. We listen to our community and work diligently to instill public trust in every decision we make. What creates distrust in our communities is allowing politics to interfere with critical decisions that affect our community.Solano County DA Krishna Abrams