Police footage shows Vallejo officer fatally shot SF man from truck’s back seatSan Francisco Chronicle, Megan Cassidy and Anna Bauman July 8, 2020
Body camera footage released Wednesday shows that the Vallejo police officer who killed a San Francisco man in front of a Walgreens last month was in the back seat of an unmarked pickup truck that had just pulled up to the scene when he fired a high-powered rifle through the windshield.
Sean Monterrosa, 22, died after the 12:30 a.m. shooting on June 2, following a day of rallies and protests against police violence on people of color. The footage released Wednesday shows multiple views from inside the pickup truck, which officers used to respond to reports of looting at the store.
But it does not show Monterrosa as he was shot or at any point before he was struck due to the camera angles, and police said that a store security camera that might have captured the shooting had been disabled by looters.
Police Chief Shawny Williams previously said Monterrosa was on his knees and raising his arms, “revealing what appeared to be the butt of a handgun” when he was shot, but on Wednesday he offered a description that portrayed Monterrosa as an aggressor.
“One of our detectives described what he believed was 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa turning towards the officers in a crouching down, half-kneeling position, as if in preparation to shoot,” Williams said in a recorded statement. “At the same time, the detective saw Mr. Monterrosa move his hands toward his waist area, and grab what appeared to be the butt of a handgun.”
That could not be verified by the videos released Wednesday.
When asked why he changed this description, Williams told The Chronicle that he was clarifying the previous “narrative” that was not accurate.
Williams’ revised statement now aligns with the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association’s description of Monterrosa’s body language just before the shooting.
In a statement, the union wrote, “Rather than continuing his escape, Mr. Monterrosa chose to engage the responding officers. Mr. Monterrosa abruptly pivoted back around toward the officers, crouched into a tactical shooting position, and grabbed an object in his waistband that appeared to be the butt of a handgun. At no time did Mr. Monterrosa make any movements consistent with surrendering.”
The body cam footage from the pickup truck driver, which begins without sound because the body camera has an audio delay, shows the barrel of the rifle inside the vehicle and five rounds being fired as the truck comes to a stop. The officers get out of the car and yell orders at Monterrosa, who was killed by a single bullet.
“What did he point at us?” says the officer who opened fire.
“I don’t know, man,” says the officer who was driving.
“Hey, he pointed a gun at us,” says the officer who opened fire.
The officer’s name was not released Wednesday after the city’s police union filed for and received a temporary restraining order.
Williams has previously said the officer believed he saw the butt of a handgun poking out near Monterrosa’s waist and opened fire “due to this perceived threat.”
An investigation later revealed Monterrosa had a 15-inch hammer tucked into the pocket of a sweatshirt.
Roughly 100 friends and supporters of the Monterrosa family stood quietly Wednesday afternoon outside Vallejo City Hall, where Michelle and Ashley Monterrosa, the young man’s sisters, exited with their attorneys, John Burris and Melissa Nold. The sisters wiped away tears, and flowers and candles were set up on the steps. People wore shirts that said “Justice for Sean Monterrosa” and held signs that read “defund the police.”