The city attorney in Vallejo is already seeking a change of venue and a gag order on the attorneys and plaintiffs involved in the civil rights lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court pertaining to the police shooting of Sean Monterrosa.
The June 2 shooting outside a Walgreens during a night of looting and unrest in Vallejo is just the latest in a string of fatal officer-involved shootings for the city, where the police department is rumored to have quietly worn its violent history as a badge of honor. And 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa was unarmed save for a hammer in his waistband — body camera footage of the incident has so far failed to show the public what officers saw as they approached the scene, or what Monterrosa was doing to provoke one officer to fire a high-powered rifle at him, through the windshield of a police vehicle, before it had come to a full stop.
Famed local civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing the Monterrosa family in the federal suit filed Thursday, calls the shooting "flat out murder," as ABC 7 reports.
"It was almost like a wild, like an animal, he's looking through his window, he sees some movement and he's like a deer hunter he shoots the moving object," Burris said of the officer who fired the fatal shot, during a press conference on Thursday.
The lawsuit identifies the officer as Jarret Tonn, who was previously involved in three other non-fatal officer-involved shootings over the past five years.
The City of Vallejo, which was named in the suit along with Tonn and the Vallejo PD, says that change of venue will be essential to a fair trial, given the widespread media attention the case has already received. And they're seeking a judge's order to keep the attorneys and Monterrosa's family from further speaking to the press.
"The City will seek a fair trial with an uncompromised jury, and that may not be possible in the Bay Area or the Sacramento area, given the extensive negative media coverage on this case," the city attorney said in a statement Friday. "After the City is served with the official complaint, we intend to seek a change of venue outside of the Bay Area (and Sacramento). The jury pool in the local and surrounding areas has been debased by inflammatory and sensationalized media statements given by the plaintiff's attorneys in this case. We intend to seek a protective order preventing these attorneys or any affiliated parties from speaking to the media about the case."
Monterrosa's family wants to see Officer Tonn fired, and they want to see California Attorney General Xavier Becerra step in to investigate the case — the Solano County district attorney has already recused herself in the case, as well as in the February 2019 police killing of Willie McCoy.
The Vallejo PD gave a pat statement to ABC 7 saying, "Our hearts go out to the Monterrosa family during this difficult time. We respect their right to initiate legal action and we respect the judicial process to follow. We know this is a painful step for the Monterrosa family. It is our sincere hope that this process will guide the family and our community toward healing."
Photo of Sean Monterrosa via the Monterrosa family