Vallejo, CA – A suspect armed with a hammer was fatally shot early on Tuesday morning during a chaotic scene when Vallejo police responded to a Walgreens that was being looted.
On Wednesday, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said that police were initially called to the Walgreens at 10:17 p.m. on June 1, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Officers responded to a second call about suspected looting at the Walgreens two hours later, at about 12:15 a.m. on June 2, according to Chief Williams.
The chief said that when officers arrived, there were about a dozen suspected looters getting into a silver pickup truck and a black sedan, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The vehicles attempted to flee the scene and the black sedan smashed into a police vehicle.
The airbags deployed and the officer was injured, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Chief Williams said uniformed officers in an unmarked police car who were the next to arrive on the scene saw a “male dressed in black” running toward the black sedan.
The officers said the man – later identified as 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa – appeared to have the butt of a gun visible in the pocket of his sweatshirt, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“This individual appeared to be running toward the black sedan when suddenly he stopped, taking a kneeling position, and placing his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a handgun,” Chief Williams said, according to KTLA.
He said that one of the officers, believing Monterrosa was armed, “perceived a threat” and opened fire.
The chief said the 18-year veteran of the police department fired five times through the windshield of the police vehicle, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He said Monterossa was shot once. The wounded suspect was transported to the hospital where he later died.
Chief Williams said some of his officers are trained to shoot through windshields and that it is permitted by department policy, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The intent was to stop the looting and to arrest any perpetrators if necessary. The officers reacted to a perceived threat,” Chief Williams said, according to KTLA. “I would say that it’s always a tragedy anytime an officer has to use force. My condolences to his family; it is a difficult thing to happen I understand that.”
Critics attacked the mayor and police department for not revealing details of the incident or the fact that Monterossa had died until Wednesday, accusing officials of attempting a cover-up.
But the police chief said the regrettable delay was a result of the chaos due to an “orchestrated, organized assault on our city,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The National Guard was deployed into Vallejo hours after Monterossa was shot to deal with rioting and looting that has resulted from violent protests over the death of George Floyd in custody in Minneapolis.
Chief Williams declined to say whether he thought his officer had used excessive force, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The chief said the district attorney “will make the ultimate finding if the force was legal.”
The officer who shot Monterrosa has been placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated, as is protocol for all officer-involved shootings, KTLA reported.
Monterrosa’s family has retained famous civil rights attorney John Burris to represent them.
Burris represented Rodney King, Tupac Shakur, Michael Bennett, Barry Bonds, and numerous other high-profile clients.