A San Francisco man was shot and killed by a Vallejo police officer on Tuesday, June 2, after the officer said he mistook a hammer inside the man's sweatshirt for a gun. The man was identified as 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa.
According to a statement issued by Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams, Monterrosa was suspected of looting a local Walgreens and was shot between midnight and 1 a.m. on Tuesday. The chief added that Monterrosa was in a kneeling position "as if in preparation to shoot" when the shots were fired.
Officer Thought He Was Preparing to Shoot
Williams said Monterrosa moved his hands towards his waist area near what the officer mistook to be the butt of a handgun but it was later revealed to be a long, 15-inch hammer tucked into the pocket of his sweatshirt.
"Due to this perceived threat, one officer fired his weapon five times from within the police vehicle through the windshield, striking the suspect once, fatally wounding the suspect," Williams said in his statement without identifying the officer but noting that he had been with the force for 18 years.
Monterrosa was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. No bodycam or dashcam footage of the fatal shooting was released but Williams said it would be made available as soon as possible.
Protestors Storm Press Conference
Monterrosa's criminal record involves charges including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and illegal weapons and drugs, Williams pointed out during the press conference, which came to an abrupt end after local protestors stormed the press conference outside the city hall and started shouting at Williams.
The residents demanded answers over what action would be taken against the officer, who shot a man who was on his knees. "At what point do you arrest him and make an example out of all these officers and arrest him?", shouted one woman. "Fire him! Not paid leave! Fire him for killing a man that was on his knees!"
Williams responded by reiterating that the officer perceived a threat from the suspect and his posture and that an investigation would determine whether the use of force was lawful.
Social Media Backlash
The killing of Monterrosa, who Williams identified as Hispanic, comes as protesters across the country speak out against police brutality, particularly the killing of black Americans by law enforcement.
Monterrosa's death has spurred the hashtag #justice4sean to trend on Twitter, with many demanding justice for the slain youngster including filmmaker Ava DuVernay. One user even pointed out that he always stood up for his community and demanded equality for black and brown people with a video clip of Monterrosa.
Others expressed their anger over the unwarranted use of excessive force by the police officer and accused the officer of murder.