Tag Archives: Police violence

SF resident was kneeling when fatally shot by Vallejo police during civil unrest

Barricades on Amador Street keep traffic away from the Vallejo police station on Wednesday, a day after the shooting. Sean Monterrosa was shot and killed by a Vallejo officer outside a Walgreens early Tuesday.
Barricades on Amador Street keep traffic away from the Vallejo police station on Wednesday, a day after the shooting. Sean Monterrosa was shot and killed by a Vallejo officer outside a Walgreens early Tuesday.  [10 more photos here.]
San Francisco Chronicle, by Megan Cassidy June 3, 2020

The man fatally shot by Vallejo police as the city erupted in chaos Tuesday was kneeling outside a Walgreens and not carrying a firearm when an officer opened fire — sending five bullets through his own windshield.

Sean Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco died after the shooting at around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, but police did not tell the public the man was killed — or disclose the circumstances of the shooting — until Wednesday at a news conference outside City Hall, a day after calling in 50 troops from the National Guard to help control protests and rioting sparked by the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd.

In a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams 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.”

Williams did not say how far the officer, who was still in his vehicle, was from Monterrosa.

“Investigations later revealed that the weapon was a long, 15-inch hammer, tucked into the pocket of a sweatshirt,” Williams said.

The shooting is under investigation by the Vallejo police and the Solano County district attorney’s office. The officer, an 18-year veteran of the force, has been placed on administrative leave.

The killing early Tuesday morning occurred as protests, lootings and civil unrest erupted across the country. That evening in Vallejo, city officials said about 100 people and nearly 40 vehicles “surrounded” the police department, and rocks and bottles were thrown at officers.

The killing of Monterrosa, who was Latino, is almost certain to fan the flames of an already outraged community, after activists here say for years they have run up against a police department that has disproportionately targeted people of color and is rarely held accountable for its actions.

“My brother was murdered out here by a cop, too — they got no justice,” said Alicia Saddler, who is the sister of Angel Ramos, and who attended the press conference. “Now this man was on his knees? Unarmed? A hammer is not a weapon.”

For Ramos, whose 21-year-old brother was shot and killed by Vallejo police after they responded to a fight at a home, Monterrosa’s death was chillingly familiar.

“He should be here. He should be alive,” she said. “This cop needs to be arrested and taken to jail, period.”

The incidents leading to Monterrosa’s shooting began late Monday evening, when police responded to reports of a looting at a Walgreens on Broadway and Redwood Street, Williams said at the news conference.

Looters initially fled the scene, but about 12:15 a.m. looters had returned and were attempting to break into the building, Williams said. The responding unit reported seeing 10 to 12 potential looters in the parking lot, and police also saw a young man dressed in black, who appeared to be armed, in front of the building, Williams said.

As a police vehicle drove into the parking lot, at least one officer reported potential looters inside two vehicles, a black sedan and a silver truck.

Williams said officers in a second unit saw a single male dressed in black outside the Walgreens, “holding what appeared to be a weapon.”

“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 officer in the second unit opened fire, striking Monterrosa once.

In police scanner traffic of the incident, an officer can be heard saying, “wearing all black, looks like they’re armed—possibly armed.”

“We got shots fired,” an officer is heard saying 22 seconds later.

After the shooting, police scanner traffic captured the ensuing scene, which Williams talked about at the press conference: The black sedan rammed one of the police vehicles, Williams said, which set off the airbag and injured an officer.

The two suspect vehicles fled the scene, prompting a chase into Contra Costa County, where the driver of the silver truck was apprehended, Williams said.

Civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing Monterrosa’s family, said he was “troubled” by the shooting.

“Notwithstanding what he’s accused of doing, you don’t kill people because they’re looters,” he said.

Burris said he’s awaiting more information on the case, including police body camera footage of the incident.

At the press conference, Williams declined to answer reporters’ and advocates’ questions on whether he believed the officer’s use of force was excessive, but said policy doesn’t preclude police from firing through windshields.

“I would like to say since I’ve been here in the city of Vallejo, we have made many changes in terms of our de-escalation policy, in terms of our body-worn camera policy,” he said. “So there are there are big positive things that are happening.”

When a reporter asked asked how de-escalation was used in this case, Williams said the officers’ intent was to stop and arrest the perpetrators in the Walgreens area.

“The officers reacted to a perceived threat,” he said.

When asked why police waited so long to announce that the shooting was fatal, Williams said he didn’t yet have the information that Monterrosa had died. Williams said on Wednesday he was unaware of the time of Monterrosa’s death, and denied the suggestion that police waited until after the Tuesday evening protest to release the information.

Williams vowed to release body camera footage as soon as possible, prior to the required 45-day legal deadline, in the name of “rapid transparency.”

Vallejo police shot, killed 22-year-old on his knees after mistaking hammer for gun

ABC7 News, June 3, 2020

At the time he was shot, Monterrosa was on his knees, the police chief said.

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) — The Vallejo Police Department gave details Wednesday on an officer-involved shooting that left one person dead on Tuesday morning at 12:30 a.m.

22-year-old Sean Monterrosa was shot and killed by an unnamed officer. Chief Shawny Williams said the officer believed Monterrosa had a gun in his pocket, but it ended up being a 15-inch hammer.

At the time he was shot, Monterrosa was on his knees, Williams said.

The incident started at a Walgreens where officers say they saw two carloads of suspected looters who drove away from the scene. Officers chased the two cars. When they came across Monterrosa, they believed he was trying to get into one of the suspect vehicles.

The officer fired his weapon five times through the windshield of his patrol car. One round hit Monterrosa, killing him.

The department hasn’t released body camera or dash camera footage.

RELATED: Fatal Vallejo officer-involved shooting following Monday night looting

Chief Williams said Monterrosa was a San Francisco resident with a criminal record.

I-TEAM reporter Melanie Woodrow spoke with the victim’s family late Tuesday night who confirmed their son was shot and killed.

“I know this person was transported to the hospital but I don’t know this person’s condition,” said Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan. “I want our residents to know that whatever happened will be reported that it will be open and transparent.”

The city of Vallejo has since implemented an 8 p.m. curfew after Monday night’s looting, officer-involved shooting and someone setting fire inside City Hall.

In a Tuesday press conference addressing the fire that caused City Hall to close, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said he’s never experienced something like this before.

“In 27 years of service I’ve never experienced anything like what I experienced last night in the city of Vallejo,” said Chief Williams.

“This was a coordinated attack by organized individuals seeking to cause destruction and harm to our community,” he continued.

“I understand and I believe in the public’s right of protest of expressing your first amendment rights about the heinous murder of George Floyd but when it comes to the destruction of private and public property I don’t understand how that brings about the change people are asking for,” said Mayor Bob Sampayan.

White supremacists behind some of the violence and looting, Trump and cronies fanning the flames

A white supremacist channel on Telegram encouraged followers to incite violence during police brutality protests by ‘shooting in a crowd,’ according to internal DHS memo

Business Insider, by Sonam Sheth , Jun 1, 2020
nypd george floyd protests
New York Police Department (NYPD) officers gather during a rally on May 31, 2020 in New York City. Protesters demonstrated for the fourth straight night after video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinning Floyd’s neck to the ground. Floyd was later pronounced dead while in police custody after being transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. Justin Heiman/Getty Images
    • A white supremacist channel on Telegram encouraged its followers to spark violence to start a race war in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, Politico reported, citing an internal Department of Homeland Security memo.
    • Citing the FBI, the note said that two days after Floyd’s death, the channel “incited followers to engage in violence and start the ‘boogaloo’ — a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War — by shooting in a crowd.”
    • One of the messages in the channel called for potential shooters to “frame the crowd around you” for the violence, the note said, according to Politico.
    • Other media outlets have also reported on white supremacist groups weaponizing protests against police brutality to incite violence.
    • Meanwhile, several Republican officials, including President Donald Trump, have blamed “antifa” for the violence and some have suggested protesters should be hunted down like terrorists.

A white supremacist channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram encouraged its followers to spark violence to start a race war during nationwide protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd, Politico reported, citing an internal Department of Homeland Security intelligence note.

Floyd was a 46-year-old black man who died on May 25 after repeatedly saying he could not breathe when a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The DHS note warning of white supremacist linked violence was circulated among law enforcement officials, Politico reported. Citing the FBI, it said that two days after Floyd’s death, the channel “incited followers to engage in violence and start the ‘boogaloo’ — a term used by some violent extremists to refer to the start of a second Civil War — by shooting in a crowd.”

One of the messages in the channel called for potential shooters to “frame the crowd around you” for the violence, the note said, according to Politico.

On May 29, the note said, “suspected anarchist extremists and militia extremists allegedly planned to storm and burn the Minnesota State Capitol.”

The memo pointed to “previous incidents of domestic terrorists exploiting First Amendment-protected events” as one of the reasons the DHS is keeping an eye out for additional violence by “domestic terrorist actors.”

NBC News also reported on Monday that Twitter had identified a group posing as an “antifa” organization calling for violence in the protests as actually being linked to the white supremacist group Identity Evropa.

Twitter suspended the account, @ANTIFA_US, after it posted a tweet that incited violence. A company spokesperson also told NBC News that the account violated Twitter’s rules against platform manipulation and spam.

These developments come as protests against racism and police brutality continue across the country. Peaceful demonstrations have taken place in more than 75 cities, though some have spiraled into chaos and deadly violence as law enforcement officials use heavy-handed crowd control tactics.

Some protests have involved smaller groups looting businesses and, in a few cases, setting fire to buildings and cars.

On Monday evening, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters outside the White House gates in Washington, DC, while President Donald Trump delivered remarks in the Rose Garden saying he was “an ally to all peaceful protesters.”

Several social-media posts have shown other instances of violence linked to the demonstrations, including:

  • Police cruisers ramming into protesters in New York City.
  • Protesters in Denver being hit with a car whose driver was accused of deliberately trying to run someone over.
  • Protesters and officers clashing in Chicago.
  • A riot in Dallas in which one video appeared to show a can of tear gas being thrown inside a woman’s car while she was in it.
  • Police in Louisville, Kentucky, spraying pepper bullets at protesters. Officers reportedly also shot them at a reporter and cameraman covering the scene.

Trump and some Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have suggested using violence and deploying the US military to tamp down the demonstrations.

On Monday, a Blackhawk helicopter with US Army markings was seen flying low over Washington, DC, in a “show of force” against protesters. The New York Times reported that the helicopter descended to rooftop level, kicked up dirt and debris, and snapped trees that narrowly missed several people.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida suggested earlier in the day that protesters demonstrating against police brutality are part of antifa and should be hunted down like terrorists.

“Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” Gaetz tweeted. Twitter later flagged the post for violating its rules against glorifying violence but left it up because it determined it was in the “public interest” for the tweet to still be accessible, though users cannot like, retweet, or reply to it.

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas also advocated for using military force against protesters and indicated that they should be shown no mercy.

“We need to have zero tolerance for this destruction,” Cotton wrote, calling protesters “Antifa terrorists.”

“And, if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry — whatever it takes to restore order,” he added. “No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters.”

“No quarter” is a military term that means a commander will not accept the lawful surrender of an enemy combatant and suggests the captive will instead be killed. The practice is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

Trump also called for forcefully subduing the protesters just before describing himself as an “ally” to peaceful demonstrators.

“If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time,” the president said on Monday during a phone call with governors and law-enforcement officials. “They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

At one point, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said, “We have to be careful, but we’ve got to be tough.”

Trump responded: “You don’t have to be too careful, and you have to do the prosecutions.”

“When someone’s throwing a rock, that’s like shooting a gun,” the president said. “We’ve had a couple of people badly hurt with no retribution. You have to do retribution, in my opinion. You have to use your own legal system. But if you want this to stop, you have to prosecute people.”

Public health experts urge police to stop using tear gas during coronavirus pandemic

Doctors say the gas can damage the respiratory system and aggravate COVID-19 symptoms or aid spread of the disease

OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 1: Protesters run away as police shoot tear gas and flash grenades to disperse the crowd on Broadway near the Oakland Police Department during the fourth day of protests over George Floyd’s death by the Minneapolis police in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Vallejo Times-Herald, By Emily DeRuy, June 2, 2020

Public health experts are calling on police to stop using tear gas on people protesting the death of George Floyd.

An online petition started at the University of Washington and created with Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UCSF, opposes the use of tear gas, suggesting it could “increase risk for COVID-19 by making the respiratory tract more susceptible to infection, exacerbating existing inflammation, and inducing coughing.”

Thousands of people have poured onto streets from Walnut Creek to San Jose in demonstrations sparked by Floyd’s death and video of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Those demonstrations have been met by tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and other measures from police.

While some health officials have worried the crowded demonstrations could spread COVID-19, the petition endorses the protests “as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States.”

The document encourages protestors to wear face coverings and stay six feet apart if possible. It also calls on police to avoid arresting and holding protestors in confined spaces like jails and police vans, “which are some of the highest-risk areas for COVID-19 transmission.”

Santa Clara County is urging people who attend protests to get tested for the virus within a few days. The county has opened free testing sites available to anyone regardless of whether they have symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prolonged exposure to a large dose of riot control agent like tear gas can have serious consequences, including respiratory failure possibly resulting in death.

Echoing the petition, a UCLA professor of medicine and public health told LAist he was especially worried about the potential harm caused when law enforcement officers rely on the gas.

“During this time when we’re protesting police brutality, the use of tear gas is causing more harm in the way of spreading COVID,” the professor, David Eisenman, told the news outlet. “There is some culpability on the police for using this method, which increases the sneezing and increases the coughing and therefore increases the spread.”