Category Archives: Police reform

Bill would have California join 46 other states in allowing decertification of bad cops

California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

Currently the state does not have the power to permanently remove law enforcement officers from their jobs

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Robert Lewis, CalMatters, July 26, 2021
Police create a blockade as protesters attempt to walk onto the eastbound span of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Red states such as Florida and Georgia lead the way in decertifying officers with past problems, while there is no decertification in two of the bluest and biggest in the country – California and New Jersey. (Jose Carlos Fajardo — Bay Area News Group file)

On a Wednesday afternoon in April 2018, Gardena police officers got a “triple beeper” over their radios — three high-pitched squawks signaling an emergency. As many as 20 shots reportedly had been fired near a local park.

“That kind of gets you a little adrenaline squirt going,” Gardena Police Officer Michael Robbins would later tell investigators.

In minutes, a 25-year-old Black man, Kenneth Ross Jr., was dead — shot twice and killed by Officer Robbins as he ran past Rowley Park. Police said a gun was found in the dead man’s shorts pocket, and Robbins would later be cleared by local authorities of any wrongdoing.

But the case was far from over.

What happened on April 11, 2018 — which led to immediate cries for police accountability and demonstrations — is now a centerpiece of a bill that is arguably California’s biggest criminal justice proposal this legislative session.

TEXT AND HISTORY OF THE BILL: SB-2 Peace officers: certification: civil rights. (2021-2022), leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

The bill (The Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021) would allow California to decertify police officers for misconduct — effectively stripping them of a license to work in law enforcement and kicking them out of the profession. California is one of only four states in the country without such power. As a result, a number of high-profile cases have been reported over the years where an officer involved in a questionable shooting was allowed to remain on the streets, only to kill again. Officers also have been fired for wrongdoing in one department, then quietly moved on to another agency.

“California is able to revoke the certification or license of bad doctors, bad lawyers, even bad barbers and cosmetologists — you can even recall an elected official — but is unable to decertify police officers who have broken the law and violated public trust,” state Sen. Steven Bradford said at a committee hearing earlier this year. Bradford, a Gardena Democrat who chairs the public safety committee and lives near where the shooting took place, introduced the bill along with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins.

In the Gardena shooting, local law enforcement — as it typically does in such cases — investigated the shooting. The district attorney’s office cleared Robbins of wrongdoing because it said the officer believed the man running away from him was armed and might reasonably have feared for his life

But criminal justice reform advocates say for too long police accountability has been solely in the hands of local agencies — police policing themselves. They question if the man Robbins shot in the back was truly a threat running away and point out it was the officer’s fourth shooting, suggesting he was too quick to use deadly force.

Bradford’s bill is the latest effort to break through the wall of legal protections built up over the years that critics say shield California law enforcement officers from accountability. CalMatters was only able to obtain internal police reports and videos regarding the Gardena shooting because a 2018 law for the first time opened certain law enforcement records, including files pertaining to use of deadly force and some misconduct. Another law that went into effect this year requires the state attorney general’s office to handle investigations regarding police killings of unarmed civilians.

“This nation has cried out — especially in Black and brown communities — for change,” Bradford told CalMatters, ticking off a list of high-profile police killings and use of force incidents from Stephon Clark in Sacramento to Oscar Grant in Oakland to Rodney King in Los Angeles. “It’s definitely overdue.”

But there’s still work to be done, he added.

“It’s one thing to pass legislation. It’s another to change the mindset and internal training and operations of law enforcement,” Bradford said.

People attend a rally for Mario Gonzalez outside the Alameda police headquarters in Alameda, Calif., on Monday, May, 3 2021. Gonzalez died in custody while being restrained by Alameda police on April 19. (Jane Tyska — Bay Area News Group file)

And his bill is far from certain, as police associations and chiefs from around the state have signaled their opposition.

“No one wants to see bad officers removed from law enforcement more than good officers do,” said Brian Marvel, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, in a statement to CalMatters.

“When an officer acts in a way that is grossly inconsistent with the missions and goals of our profession, it tarnishes the badge and the great work being done day in and day out by officers keeping our families and communities safe.”

But he added that the bill as written creates a “biased and unclear process for revoking an officer’s license.

The bill would create a new division within the state’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to investigate or review possible misconduct. A nine-member advisory board would consider the evidence and recommend whether to strip an officer of certification. The majority of that board would be civilians without policing experience, including four members who would be experts on “police accountability” and two who either personally suffered from an officer’s use of force or lost a loved one to such an incident. The commission would have final say on decertification,  but language in the bill suggests they’d be expected to adopt the advisory board’s recommendations when reasonably supported by evidence.

As for what constitutes wrongdoing that could cost an officer their career, it’s unclear. The bill includes categories such as sexual assault and dishonesty but would leave it to the commission to develop a full definition of “serious misconduct” that also includes broader areas such as “abuse of power” and “physical abuse.”

“We all want to see a fair and transparent decertification system put in place that permanently removes officers for serious misconduct, but even with recent amendments (the bill) fails to create a balanced and even process,” said Abdul Pridgen, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, in an email to CalMatters. “However, we remain committed to continuing our work with the Governor’s office, legislative leaders, and Senator Bradford to address our remaining concerns and establish a decertification process we can all have faith in.”

Among the sticking points for the association is the makeup of the advisory board, the degree to which that board’s recommendations are binding and what will happen if a local department exonerates an officer but the state commission finds wrongdoing.

decertification bill failed last session. The current bill made it out of the Senate but not without changes. The initial version had made it easier for civilians to sue officers for misconduct, but that language is largely gone.

More recent amendments reduce the role of the advisory board. Bradford’s spokesperson said those changes were made after working with the governor’s office and key lawmakers. The original bill gave the advisory board the power to direct the commission to investigate certain officers. The new version, however, simply says the board can recommend investigations. It also drops a licensing fee on officers.

Police unions have been donating to some Democrat lawmakers who could play a role in forcing further changes — news that prompted a sharp tweet from Sen. Bradford accusing opponents of trying to “kill solid policy.”

“If you can’t win on the merit of your argument, you resort to paying off legislators?? SHAMEFUL, BUT NOT SURPRISING!!,” he tweeted.

Advocates said they’re concerned powerful police associations will further weaken the bill.

“They’re trying to duck accountability time and time again,” said Sheila Bates, a member of the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles policy team and part of the coalition co-sponsoring the bill. “Had (Gardena Police Officer) Michael Robbins been held accountable the first, second, or third time when he shot somebody, then Kenneth Ross Jr. might still be alive.”

Records from the shooting investigation show that as Officer Robbins got near the scene he saw other officers arriving and Ross, who matched the suspect’s description, running away. Robbins parked, grabbed his assault rifle and shouted for Ross to stop.

“You’re going to get shot,” Robbins yelled.

Video from his body-worn camera shows what happened next.

Standing behind the engine block of his squad car for cover, the barrel of Robbins’ rifle tracks Ross’ movement. Just after Ross crosses in front of Robbins’ position, maybe 100 feet away, the officer gives the trigger two quick taps. (“I gave him…a double tap that was just amazing, training just kicked in,” he told investigators later.) Ross falls to the ground dead.

It was the fourth time Robbins shot at someone in his nearly 30-year career, although his first shooting since the early 2000’s, he later said.

The Gardena Police Department, which is currently facing a lawsuit over the shooting, declined an interview request. Attorneys representing the officer also did not comment for this story.

As for Robbins, the pending decertification bill likely wouldn’t affect him. He retired from the Gardena Police Department in July 2020 with the rank of sergeant, records show. But if future officers are kicked out of the profession, it will be because of a bill named after the man he killed.

Next month, lawmakers will be taking up the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021.

Drone files raise new questions of evidence destruction in Vallejo police killing of Sean Monterrosa

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa (left, holding banner) stand with activists in front of a billboard of their brother, Sean Monterrosa, who was shot in the back of the head by Vallejo police Det. Jarett Tonn on June 2, 2020. (courtesy Brian Krans)
JohnGlidden.com, by Brian Krans | May 26, 2021

VALLEJO – On June 2, 2020, Vallejo police Detective Jarrett Tonn fired his rifle five times from the back seat of an unmarked police truck as it pulled up to a Walgreens pharmacy, hitting Sean Monterrosa once in the back of the head, according to his official autopsy report.

Officers were responding to reports of widespread looting that had swept the region amid protests over the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis a week earlier.

Seconds before Tonn fired, Capt. Lee Horton announced over the radio that “it looks like they’re armed, possibly armed.” Monterrosa had a roofing hammer in the front pocket of his black hoodie. Minutes before, according to video released by Vallejo police, the 22-year-old had been using that hammer to try to pry open a locker in the pharmacy, as others had tried to do earlier in the night.

The video of Monterrosa in Walgreens is the only visual evidence the Vallejo Police Department has made public that shows Monterrosa in the final moments of his life. Police body cameras were obscured by vehicle seats and dashboards, as they were just arriving on the scene as Tonn started firing.

Coincidentally, a Medic Ambulance supervisor was reportedly flying a high-end drone in the area that an expert describes as “idiot proof.” But attorneys once representing the Monterrosa family in a civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit alleged early on that the drone had been “destroyed.”

In the following days, two lieutenants were placed on leave for allegedly destroying the windshield of the truck that Tonn fired through. The California Department of Justice investigated the allegations and said that it turned its file over in late January to the Solano County District Attorney’s office, which has recused itself from the Monterrosa case.

Newly available files related to Monterrosa’s killing obtained by JohnGlidden.com provide more insight into the investigation of it but raise new questions about what happened to any footage captured by the drone.

A forensic specialist with the U.S. Secret Service was unable to pull any data from the DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone that was at the scene, including its internal and independent “black box” memory storage that automatically records detailed information about the device’s flight path, including stills from any video that was recorded.

“If that is not there, you have serious problems,” said Werner von Stein, owner of the SF Drone School Research Center on Treasure Island and regular user of the Mavic 2. “There’s something fishy going on here.”

‘The most extraordinary incidence of lawless criminal behavior’

Monterrosa was declared dead at 1:31 a.m. on June 2, 2020, about an hour after a call went out to emergency responders about an “officer-involved shooting” at the Walgreens on Redwood Street. One of Tonn’s bullets struck Monterrosa in the base of his skull, leaving him with just a few minutes to live, according to the Solano County Sheriff’s forensic pathologist’s report.

Moneterrosa’s body was removed from the scene and transported by Medic Ambulance to Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo.

Medic Ambulance would send Monterrosa — who was dead before they transported him — a bill for $3,244.85.

Since dusk, Vallejo had been besieged with cars full of people breaking into various businesses around the city.

Napa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joshua Coleman — a former Vallejo police officer involved in multiple shootings himself — responded to Vallejo to see “the most extraordinary incidence of lawless criminal behavior that I have ever witnessed in my entire 14 year career.”

Coleman wrote that he was concerned after hearing several gun stores had been attacked in the previous few days. “I could hear passerby residents yelling violent threats at the officers on every scene,” he wrote. “It was a very dangerous and volatile situation; I was keenly aware of the likelihood that officers could encounter armed burglars.”

The city of Vallejo’s first response to the events reflected how the business community was impacted. At a press conference the day after Monterrosa was killed, City Manager Greg Nyhoff described the groups entering the city as “packs.” The city would request help from the National Guard after someone lit a fire at City Hall.

City officials refused to discuss the shooting of Monterrosa that day. In fact, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams waited 38.5 hours to report the shooting had been fatal, despite pledging transparency after being sworn in as the city’s first Black police chief months before.

Williams initially described Monterrosa’s stature as being on his knees with his hands above his waist. He also listed criminal charges associated with Monterrosa’s name, though Monterrosa had not been convicted of any of them. Vallejo police started gathering that information following his death.

Hours after his death, Monterrosa’s sisters contacted the Solano County coroner’s office to learn their brother was dead. Meanwhile, Vallejo Police Assistant Allen Pigg sent a handwritten fax to San Francisco police, asking for “all police reports in your possession regarding Sean Monterrosa.”

While Vallejo police portrayed Monterrosa as a criminal, the Vallejo Police Officers Association quickly filed legal actions against the city from releasing Tonn’s name, citing fears for his and his family’s safety. Despite the fact that his name was quickly made public in local news reports and eventually The New Yorker,  nearly a year later, the department has yet to officially release it. Department-released body camera footage of the shooting blurred his face and any mention of his name.

But reports from the San Mateo County Forensics Laboratory obtained by JohnGlidden.com lists “Officer Tonn” as the victim in the investigation surrounding Monterrosa’s death. Tonn was involved in three shootings since 2014, though Monterrosa was the first that was fatal.

Vallejo police regularly list themselves as the victims in use-of-force reports.

‘The video files of interest had no content’

Solano County District Attorney’s Investigator Charles Renfro was one of several investigators on the scene after Monterrosa was shot. Renfro and Vallejo Detective Terry Schillinger contacted William “Billy’” White, an operations manager for Medic Ambulance who was flying a drone over the Walgreens “at or around” the time of the burglaries, according to Renfro’s report.

Noting that Schillinger left a voicemail message for White to call him back, Renfro also interviewed a resident in the area who said she “observed a drone flying around the Walgreens just before the [officer-involved shooting],” his report states.

For other details, Renfro pointed other investigators to reports from Schillinger, but those reports have not yet been made public.

According to White’s claim for reimbursement with the city, the drone was confiscated at Medic Ambulance’s office in Vallejo, which is on the same block as the Walgreens. White wrote he had “reported [the] event to Capt. [Jason] Potts” and he had been “working” with Detective Jason Scott. The city reimbursed White $2,499.76 for his equipment on July 28.

Reached by phone Tuesday, White said it would be “completely inappropriate” to comment about what happened with his drone.

Nine days after Tonn killed Monterossa — Steven Baskerville, a Secret Service agent working at the National Computer Forensics Institute Lab at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma received a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, controller, and seventh-generation iPad from Detective Kevin Rose of the Vallejo Police Department and Andre Charles, chief investigator at the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.

Baskerville wrote in his final report to Vallejo police that he hooked the devices up to various data-retrieving programs, like Cellebrite, DataPilot, Forensic Toolkit, and HxD, but his searches weren’t fruitful.

“The recovered video files from the external flash media were corrupt and unreadable. Additionally, the video files of interest had no content,” Baskerville wrote in his report.

Baskerville found an MP4 file created on June 2 on the SD card, but the file’s internal data had been “overwritten” with zeros. All files from that day, he found, “contained no data.” Baskerville wrote that after “further research” he found that DJI drones can “overwrite” when they’re “improperly shutdown.”

That, to von Stein, seems odd. “It’s electronic. It can happen, but it’s not the norm. It’s rare,” he said. “That sounds like it was wiped.”

Brittany K. Jackson, Vallejo police’s public information officer, said the drone was handled within department policy and chain of custody was followed.

“The VPD made several attempts to try and recover the information [from the drone],” Jackson said over email. “We were not able to recover the information, so we sent it to the agency experts at the Secret Service for possible data recovery by personnel trained to recover lost or corrupted data.”

As noted in the Secret Service report, “all files on the drone and the iPad were unreadable,” Jackson said, despite Vallejo police expecting “the drone to work and for its memory to contain supporting evidence.”

Werner von Stein, owner of the SF Drone School Research Center runs experiments on a DJI Mavic 2 drone, the same model that reportedly recorded video around the time of Sean Monterrosa’s death. (Courtesy Brian Krans)

Von Stein’s office is tucked in a corner of a former military building on Treasure Island. His specialty is aerial photography for map-making, which began with physical film and radio-controlled airplanes made of paper and balsa wood. He now handles much more sophisticated, yet user-friendly, drones for entities like the city of San Francisco.

DJI is the largest drone maker and considers the Mavic 2 to be its flagship consumer drone. It’s consistently one of the top-rated drones on the market. “It’s idiot-proof,” von Stein said.

The Mavic wouldn’t likely get that kind of praise if it had the major design flaw of erasing or overwriting a video file if the device was shut down improperly. Its hardware and software are designed to keep the drones from running into something and crashing, including automatically returning when battery levels become critically low.

While Baskerville’s report doesn’t say how the Mavic was improperly shutdown, von Stein theorized it could have been due to user error by pulling out the SD card or battery before stopping a recording. That could corrupt all the files on a card, but that’s where DJI’s software comes in.

Even if a file on the removable SD card is corrupted, von Stein said a Mavic’s “black box” — which begins recording every time a Mavic drone takes off — shouldn’t be affected.

Werner von Stein, owner of the SF Drone School Research Center, explains the details contained in what a “black box” on a DJI Mavic 2 drone records. (Brian Krans)

“The black box is independent of the SD card,” he said. “If that is not there, you have a serious problem.”

Besides the flight pattern, the drone’s black box records numerous data points, including when and where video recording started and stopped, as well as the direction of the camera and pictures of what’s on screen. That means the drone should have records of whether it captured video of Tonn shooting Monterossa, if it was recording and in-frame at the time.

To affect any of the Mavic 2’s black box recordings, a device must be physically connected via micro USB cable to the physical device.

Werner von Stein, owner of the SF Drone School Research Center, shows off an example of what an iPad connected to a DJI Mavic 2 drone would internally record while in flight. (Brian Krans)

But flight records, as well as any recorded video, are also normally saved in the DJI Go app, which should have been on the iPad submitted to the Secret Service, von Stein said.

“This is all independent. It technically should be there,” he said, adding he’s never personally experienced data disappearing like that in a DJI drone.

Even if the video wasn’t saved, the drone operator would have seen what the drone’s camera was capturing in real time. Von Stein says no drone pilots fly without paying attention to what’s on screen.

All told, Baskerville’s report says he was unable to pull any video files from the removable 128GB micro SD card, the drone’s internal memory or from the 128GB iPad. Nothing was readable, even with some of the most advanced software available to the federal government.

There’s no visible damage to the drone in a photo included in the report, so von Stein said it’s unlikely the power failure was caused by a crash. In most other cases, he said, it’s operator error.

While its manual warns to “remove the battery when it is turned on,” the Mavic 2 does have fail safes built in that allows the drone to store recordings in several places when its power is cut off by simply by putting in a battery again.

Von Stein was able to easily recreate this in his lab, as CJI’s app was able to catch up once the battery was put back in. Baskerville’s report doesn’t state whether he tried putting a fresh battery into the Mavic 2, but one wasn’t mentioned in his report.

Despite using several programs to pull data from the Mavic 2 Pro, Baskerville concluded in his report that the video files “contained no data and could not be reconstituted.”

‘We will bring it to light’

Monterrosa’s killing came amid a pandemic and the largest public outrage over police violence in modern U.S. history. The case received national attention as Monterrosa’s sisters, Michelle and Ashley, continued to push for justice for their brother.

Asked about the possibility of evidence from the drone being destroyed, Ashley Monterrosa said “this is one of those cases where they shoot first and ask questions later.”

“They want to get rid of whatever evidence that would signify there was no probable cause,” she said.

Vallejo police Lt. Michael Nichelini, then-head of the department’s traffic division and president of its police union, was put on paid leave last July for allegedly destroying the windshield of the truck, which attorneys for Monterrosa’s family said was a key piece of evidence. Crime scene logs say Nichelini was at the Walgreens the morning of the shooting assisting with the investigation.

Lt.  Fabio Rodriguez, head of investigations, was also put on leave around the same time. The state Justice Department opened an investigation into Vallejo police policies and the destruction of the windshield but declined at the time to review the Monterrosa shooting.

But the DOJ said it turned over its investigative file into the alleged destruction of evidence to the Solano County District Attorney’s Office four months ago when Xavier Becerra was attorney general. A DOJ spokesperson declined to elaborate on the findings.

Chief Williams sent Nichelini a notice of termination on Dec. 21, not long after a VPOA email was sent to then-San Francisco Chronicle columnist Otis Taylor Jr., who took the message as a threat. Weeks before he was fired, Nichelini filed a lawsuit seeking $7.5 million in damages from the department and city, claiming unjust treatment. Days after he was terminated, Nichelini filed an amended complaint seeking $10 million and his old job back.

On May 13, Attorney General Rob Bonta, who Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed earlier this year, announced that his office would take over the investigation into Monterrosa’s shooting. In his announcement, Bonta said the police investigation was done by March 10. The findings were given to Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams’ office, which then tried to deliver the investigative file to the Justice Department, according to Bonta.

Abrams tried to do something similar with Becerra, regarding the file from the 2019 Vallejo police killing of Willie McCoy Jr. The DOJ refused to get involved, saying there was no reason local authorities couldn’t handle it.

Abrams’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

None of the agencies have publicly disclosed Vallejo police’s findings in those cases.

In August, when Bonta was a state assemblymember in the East Bay, he voted in favor of AB1506, which requires the state DOJ to conduct an independent investigation into any fatal police shooting involving an unarmed person. That law goes into effect in July.

Whether Monterrosa would be considered armed under the new law is unclear because he had a hammer in the pocket of his sweatshirt. But Bonta’s starting with that case.

Bonta instead said in a statement that he was stepping in because Abrams had abdicated her responsibility.

“Seeing the failure of the District Attorney to fulfill this important responsibility, my office will review the [Monterrosa] case to ensure a fair, thorough, and transparent process is completed,” Bonta said. “If there has been wrongdoing, we will bring it to light.”


Brian Krans is a freelance reporter in the East Bay who covers public health, from cops to COVID. Follow him on Twitter: @citizenkrans. Investigative reporter Scott Morris was editor for this article

1 verdict, then 6 police killings across America in 24 hours

Associated Press News, By Alanna Durkin Richer & Lindsay Whitehurst

Even as the Derek Chauvin case was fresh in memory — the reading of the verdict in a Minneapolis courtroom, the shackling of the former police officer, the jubilation at what many saw as justice in the death of George Floyd — even then, blood flowed on America’s streets.

And even then, some of that blood was shed at the hands of law enforcement.

At least six people were fatally shot by officers across the United States in the 24 hours after jurors reached a verdict in the murder case against Chauvin on Tuesday. The roll call of the dead is distressing:

A 16-year-old girl in Columbus, Ohio.

An oft-arrested man in Escondido, California.

A 42-year-old man in eastern North Carolina.

The deaths, in some cases, sparked new cries for justice. Some said they reflect an urgent need for radical changes to American policing — a need that the Chauvin verdict cannot paper over. For others, the shootings are a tragic reminder of the difficult and dangerous decisions law enforcement face daily.

An unidentified man in San Antonio.

Another man, killed in the same city within hours of the first.

A 31-year-old man in central Massachusetts.

The circumstances surrounding each death differ widely. Some happened while officers investigated serious crimes. Police say some of the people were armed with a gun, knife or a metal pole. One man claimed to have a bomb that he threatened to detonate. In several cases, little is known about the lives of those killed and what happened in their final moments.

The deadly encounters are only a small snapshot of the thousands of interactions between American police officers and civilians every day, most of which end safely. Uneventful encounters between the police and the populace, however, are not an issue.

It’s a very different story when a weapon is drawn and a life is ended.

As the nation watched the judge read the verdict against Chavuin on Tuesday afternoon, an officer hundreds of miles away was listening over his patrol car radio in a neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. Minutes earlier, a colleague fatally shot a teenage girl.

Police had been called to the house after someone called 911 and reported being physically threatened. Body camera footage shows an officer approaching a group of people in the driveway as the teenager, Ma’Khia Bryant, swings a knife wildly. Moments later, the girl charges at a young woman pinned against a car.

The officer fires four shots before Bryant slumps to the ground. A black-handled blade, similar to a kitchen or steak knife, lies on the sidewalk next to her.

“You didn’t have to shoot her! She’s just a kid, man!” a man shouted at the officer.

The officer responds, “She had a knife. She just went at her.”

Later, an anguished neighbor yells at officers: “Do you see why Black lives matter? Do you get it now?”

Bryant, who was in foster care at the time, was a shy, quiet girl who liked making hair and dance videos on TikTok, her grandmother, Debra Wilcox, told The Associated Press. Her family says her actions that day were out of character.

“I don’t know what happened there unless she was fearful for her life,” Wilcox said.

Though officials have said Bryant’s death was a tragedy, they point to laws allowing police to use deadly force to protect themselves and others.

The officer’s actions were “an act of heroism” with tragic results, said the National Fraternal Order of Police president, “yet another demonstration of the impossible situations” police face.

___

About the same time the radio brought the news of Chauvin’s verdict to Columbus, two officers in San Antonio were confronting a man on a bus. Exactly how the encounter started remains unclear, but police say the unidentified man was armed. It ended with officers firing fatal shots.

Later that evening in the same city, authorities say a man killed a person working in a shed outside his home. As officers arrived, the suspect started shooting at police. They returned fired, killing him. Officials have not released his name.

___

As the nation digested the news from Minneapolis, the day wore on and daily life unspooled. In Worcester, Massachusetts, the night was punctuated by a standoff with police that ended in gunfire.

Phet Gouvonvong, 31, called 911 and claimed to have a bomb he threatened to set off, police said. Officers found him on the street. They said he was wearing body armor and had a backpack and what appeared to be a rifle.

A police SWAT team joined negotiators. One reached Gouvonvong by phone to try to calm him, officials say.

Around midnight, officials say, Gouvonvong moved toward police, and an officer opened fire.

Gouvonvong was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not said whether he actually had an explosive device.

Gouvonvong had run-ins with police over the years, including a conviction for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, but an aunt said he turned his life around, the Telegram & Gazette newspaper reported.

On Thursday, his mother crumpled onto the street in tears where flowers had been laid at the site of his killing. Marie Gonzalez told the newspaper she had called police Tuesday night to try to connect with her son but they wouldn’t put her through. She believed she could have prevented it.

“They had no right taking my son’s life,” she said. “They had no right.”

___

The next morning, as people in Minneapolis awakened to a city boarded up for unrest that never materialized, a 42-year-old Black man in eastern North Carolina was shot and killed when deputy sheriffs tried to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants.

An eyewitness has said Andrew Brown Jr. was shot dead in his car in Elizabeth City as he tried to drive away. A car authorities removed from the scene appeared to have multiple bullet holes and a shattered back window.

His slaying sparked an outcry as hundreds demanded the release of body camera footage. Seven deputies have been placed on leave.

Relatives described Brown as a doting father who always had a joke to tell. He also had a difficult life. His mother was killed when he was young, he was partially paralyzed on his right side by an accidental shooting and lost an eye in a stabbing, according to an aunt, Glenda Brown Thomas.

He also had troubles with the law, including a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and some pending felony drug charges. The day before he was killed, two arrest warrants were issued for him on drug-related charges including possession with intent to sell cocaine, court records show.

Officers have so far said little about why they fired, but his family is determined to get answers.

“The police didn’t have to shoot my baby,” said another aunt, Martha McCullen.

___

That same morning, police in Southern California got a call about someone hitting cars with a metal pole. The man ran off when police arrived, but another officer spotted him carrying a 2-foot metal pole in the street.

The white man charged at the officer, who ordered him to drop the pole before opening fire, police said.

Police in Escondido, near San Diego, have not released the man’s name, but did say he had been arrested nearly 200 times over the past two decades for violent assaults on police and the public, drug charges and other crimes. Efforts to get him help from mental health professionals hadn’t worked, the police chief said.

___

Whether any officers will face charges in these shootings remains to be seen.

Chauvin was largely convicted based on video that showed him pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Police shootings in a heated moment are notoriously difficult to prosecute. Juries have generally been reluctant to second-guess officers when they claim to have acted in life-or-death situations.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s verdict, prosecutors on opposite coasts announced opposite decisions on whether to advance charges against law enforcement who killed.

A Florida prosecutor announced Wednesday he would not pursue charges against a Brevard County Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed two Black teenagers; a California prosecutor announced manslaughter and assault charges against a deputy in the eastern San Francisco Bay area in the shooting of an unarmed Filipino man.

None of these cases has focused attention like the trial that came to a conclusion Tuesday. Some people hold out hope that the Chauvin verdict might be a crucial juncture in the national conversation about race, policing and the use of force.

“We are in a moment of reckoning,” said Rachael Rollins, district attorney for Boston and surrounding communities and the first woman of color to serve as a top county prosecutor in Massachusetts.

“If we can be strategic and come together,” she said, “we can make profound changes, profound.”

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Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman in College Park, Maryland, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Julie Watson in San Diego and Juliet Williams in San Francisco contributed to this report, as did Farnoush Amiri in Columbus, Ohio.  Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative.  Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.