The body-worn camera footage has been released by the Vallejo Police Department in the June 2 shooting of 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa. And it shows an officer in the backseat of a police vehicle aim a high-powered rifle and fire five rounds through the front windshield before the vehicle had even come to a stop.
Monterrosa was killed with just one of those shots, and the footage appears to confirm what many already believed about this incident — that yet another cop killed an unarmed person of color without assessing the situation or determining that the person was a threat.
The officer who aimed and shot the rifle has not yet been publicly named, but he can be heard in the video asking, "What did he point at us?" right after he fired the fatal shot. Then, as if to convince himself and others around him, he says, "Hey, he pointed a gun at us!" As KRON4 reports, the officer is an 18-year veteran of the department.
Warning: The footage below is disturbing to watch.
Monterrosa was not, in fact, armed with a gun, but had a 15-inch hammer in his waistband and was outside of a Walgreens during a night of intense unrest and looting in Vallejo. According to initial accounts and statements by Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams, Monterrosa was on his knees as the police vehicles approached, and had his hands in the air.
Now, though it is not at all clear from this footage, Williams has changed that account, as the Chronicle reports.
"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 statement Wednesday.
"They shoot and kill somebody and then they turn the cameras on," said attorney Melissa Nold, speaking to the Chronicle outside Vallejo City Hall. The victims sisters, Michelle and Ashley Monterrosa, came to Vallejo Wednesday with Nold and civil rights attorney John Burris to view the footage. "We may never know what really happened to Sean," Nold said.
There is footage from several different body-worn cameras in the package released today, but none provides a view of what officers saw as they approached the scene. You only see the barrel of the gun enter the frame in the driver's footage, and fire through the windshield. In the moments following the incident, the officer who fired at and killed Monterrosa can be heard seeking reassurance from another officer that Monterrosa appeared to be about to aim a weapon. That second officer can be heard comforting the shooter, saying, "You're alright, dude."
In the days following the shooting, Michelle Monterrosa said, "They executed him, there was no reason for them to kill my brother like that." And as Burris has previously said, "Notwithstanding what he’s accused of doing, you don’t kill people because they’re looters."
About 100 friends and supporters gathered outside Vallejo City Hall as the family was inside Wednesday afternoon. Some held signs saying, "Sean" and "Defund the Police."
A crowd has gathered outside Vallejo City Hall where the family of Sean Monterrosa who was shot and killed by a Vallejo police officer is inside watching the officer’s body cam video of the incident. pic.twitter.com/kuKyJkMREb— Jodi Hernandez (@JodiHernandezTV) July 8, 2020