WATCH: California Cop Shoots Unarmed Man through Windshield from Back of Cop Car
Vallejo police officer Jarrett Tonn shot and killed Sean Monterrosa last month while sitting in the back seat of an unmarked cop car, firing his gun through the windshield from more than 50 feet away, claiming Monterosa was "reaching" for a gun.
It was Tonn's fourth shooting in three years.
Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams says Monterrosa did not have a gun but a hammer sticking out of the waistband of his pants. The chief also provided a photo of the hammer in a video released by police Thursday that includes body cam footage from three cops, including Tonn.
But that hammer is not visible in any of the videos. And the only security camera that should have recorded the shooting was destroyed by looters only two days earlier, according to Shawny, who provided footage of that incident in the video released.
And the car did not have a dash cam nor did another unmarked car that was at the scene. In fact, of all the cops there, Tonn was furthest away from Monterrosa when he fired five shots through the windshield after his keen vision spotted something the other cops failed to see. He opened fire within five seconds of the car's emergency lights being activated.
Tonn was identified as the shooter last month despite the chief refusing to release his name. Some news sites are using his Tonn's name while others, like NBC News, are respecting the wishes of the chief to not mention his name.
The officer who fired his weapon has not been identified by the city, which said it "upholds its right to release the name of the officer at a time and through a method of its choosing." The Vallejo Police Officers' Association, the local police union, also filed a temporary restraining order to prevent the release of the officer's identity. The city said the name could be released once the matter is resolved.
However, the San Jose Mercury News has been publishing his name since last month along with his history.
Tuesday’s shooting marks the fourth time in five years that Tonn has fired his gun at a person while on duty, including two shootings within six weeks in 2017, and a shooting in 2015 where he fired 18 times. None of the three prior shootings resulted in a death; internal investigations cleared Tonn of wrongdoing each time.
Williams said at a news conference that Monterrosa was shot while in a “half-kneeling position,” which the officer interpreted as Monterrosa readying himself to shoot. Monterrosa’s family have told reporters they believe he was surrendering to police when the officer fired.
“They executed him. There was no reason for them to kill my brother like that,” Monterrosa’s sister, Ashley Monterrosa, told ABC7 News.
On Friday evening the Vallejo police union put out a news release saying that Monterrosa didn’t surrender but, “abruptly pivoted back around toward the officers, crouched into a tactical shooting position,” and that the hammer “appeared to be the butt of a gun. It adds that the officer fired, “as a last resort.” The news release doesn’t refer to Tonn by name.
The officer who fired his weapon has been placed on paid administrative leave, along with an unspecified number of other “witness officers,” police said.
Tonn could not be reached for comment. Vallejo police officials have also refused to identify the officer and said releasing the names of officers in such incidents threatens their safety, as well as that of officers in the department not involved in the shooting.
The police union news release also says that the officer and his family are receiving death threats, and, “we ask the public to support this officer and the good work the overwhelming majority of all officers perform to keep our communities safe.”
The incident took place at 12:30 p.m. on June 2 after police were responding to a call of possible looters. Police have not said whether Monterrosa was looting.
Not surprisingly, Tonn has been named in at least two prior lawsuits alleging abuse, including one filed in 2018 which you can read here that is still pending that accuses Tonn of abusing and arresting a man for recording him.
The Plaintiff politely corrected Officer Tonn and informed him that his registration did not expire until the end of April 2017. Officer Tonn informed the Plaintiff that he was recording on his body camera and the Plaintiff informed Tonn that he was recording the interaction on his cell phone.
At that moment, Officer Tonn reached for the claimant’s phone and the claimant pulled away so that he couldn’t grab his phone. Officer Tonn then threw the Plaintiff onto the ground and placed him into a chokehold, and told the Plaintiff to stop resisting while he was trying to breathe.
The officer put his knee onto the Plaintiff’s head and forced it into the concrete. The Plaintiff’s lip scraped the concrete and started bleeding. The Plaintiff was subsequently arrested and detained for two hours and then released with Officer Tonn saying, “You seem like a nice guy and you’re working so I’ll let you go”. He walked the Plaintiff outside.
The other lawsuit filed last year which can be read here alleges that Tonn and other officers pulled a man over for having an air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror, then proceeded to search his car unlawfully.
Watch the shortened video above that includes portions of all three body cameras. The audio does not go on until after the shooting. Below is a photo of Monterrosa and the full video released by police.