Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams has officially recused herself from the investigations into a pair of officer-involved shootings in Vallejo, including the June 2 shooting of San Francisco resident Sean Monterrossa.
Abrams has been trying for weeks to get California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to step in in the case, saying that it presented a potential conflict of interest for her to lead a review of her own city's police department and its officers. And in early June, Becerra's office agreed to conduct an "expansive review" of the Vallejo Police Department.
But now it seems that Abrams is trying to push the AG's office to conduct reviews of two cases in particular — the February 2019 shooting of Willie McCoy, and last month's shooting of Monterrossa. She's recusing herself in both cases, and referring them to Becerra's office, as KTVU reports.
"Public safety ethics, integrity, and the fair administration of justice have always been... Throughout my career as a prosecutor... I have fought for justice for crime victims," she says in a video address. But, Abrams says, because it's her job to make daily charging decisions about cases in Vallejo including police use of deadly force, she feels it's in the best interest of the people of Vallejo if she is not involved in these two recent cases in which the use of deadly force appears far from clear cut or necessary.
Shortly after the shooting of Monterrossa outside a Walgreens following several days of protests around the Bay Area, Abrams began pressing for Becerra to step in. However, as the Chronicle reported, Becerra declined as of last week to investigate the shooting of Monterrossa, saying, "Absent a conflict of interest, an abuse of discretion or other exceptional circumstances, the Department of Justice does not assume responsibility for local investigations or prosecutions typically handled by local authorities."
It seems Abrams is arguing that there is a conflict of interest, and further she says that there is little justification for the AG's office to be conducting a broad review of the department but declining to review these two cases.
"The attorney general, as the chief law enforcement officer, has the legal duty, and constitutional and statutory authority to take full charge of any investigation or prosecution," Abrams says. And she points to the Chronicle Editorial Board's editorial from Sunday pushing Becerra to take up the Monterrossa case.
Monterrossa was shot by a Vallejo officer who allegedly saw a hammer sticking out of the young man's waistband and believed it was a gun. The officer was responding to reports of looting, and Monterrossa and others present were unarmed. Body-cam footage that has yet to be released will likely clarify whether Monterrossa appeared to be reaching for a weapon, or if his hands were up as he knelt on the ground, as was initially reported.
The case of the shooting of McCoy in February 2019 also sparked considerably controversy. McCoy was shot while sitting his car in a Taco Bell drive-through in Vallejo after apparently falling asleep at the wheel while waiting for food. McCoy allegedly had a gun in his lap, and arriving officers shot McCoy as he woke up and allegedly appeared to reach for the weapon.
A lawsuit claims McCoy was shot 55 times by six officers.