California police department faces state DOJ review after 18 fatal officer-involved shootings in past decade

The Vallejo Police Department in the San Francisco Bay Area will undergo an “expansive review” by the California Department of Justice after recording 18 fatal officer-involved shootings in the past decade.

Vallejo City Council on Tuesday approved a three-year agreement between the police department and the state justice department to work as part of a "collaborative effort to modernize and reform" use-of-force procedures and implement other changes to increase accountability and transparency for officers.

This comes after the death of Sean Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco, who was fatally shot around 12:30 a.m. on June 2 by an officer responding to reports about alleged looting taking place at a Walgreens pharmacy in Vallejo, Mercury News reported.

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Candles and signs left at the entrance to closed Vallejo city hall seen on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Vallejo, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Candles and signs left at the entrance to closed Vallejo city hall seen on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Vallejo, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The officer involved reportedly mistook a hammer at Monterrosa’s waist for a gun and fired at least five times through his patrol car windshield. The newspaper, citing several law enforcement sources, identified the officer as veteran policeman Jarrett Tonn.

Peaceful protests and violent riots and looting have captivated the nation for over two weeks after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in police custody after a white Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.

Activists have pushed to reform – or even completely defund – police departments all in the name of a new reckoning meant to end to racial injustice and change policing in black communities.

Amid the unrest, the Vallejo Police Department came under fire for reportedly waiting a day and a half before publicly announcing that an officer had killed someone.

Police said around 4 a.m. on June 2 – about 3.5 hours after Monterrosa was shot – that there had been an officer-involved shooting but gave no further details. Monterrosa’s official time of death was 1:31 a.m. – roughly an hour after he was shot.

Chief Shawny Williams did not clarify the discrepancy.

“Regardless of circumstances, it is absolutely unacceptable that the public was forced to wait for over 24 hours to learn of the conditions of those involved in the shooting,” Assemblyman Tim Grayson, whose district includes Vallejo, said in a news release, according to Mercury News.

A sign alerting customers to a closed Walgreens store is seen on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Vallejo, Calif. A person was shot by police when people began breaking into stores late Monday, and another round of violence erupted late Tuesday, June 2, 2020. The shooting occurred when a group that had entered a Walgreens rammed a police officer outside, City Manager Greg Nyhoff said in a statement, he did not say whether the suspect survived. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

A sign alerting customers to a closed Walgreens store is seen on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Vallejo, Calif. A person was shot by police when people began breaking into stores late Monday, and another round of violence erupted late Tuesday, June 2, 2020. The shooting occurred when a group that had entered a Walgreens rammed a police officer outside, City Manager Greg Nyhoff said in a statement, he did not say whether the suspect survived. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Another fatal shooting under scrutiny is that of Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old aspiring rapper from Vallejo, who was fatally shot by officers while he slept in his car in a Taco Bell parking lot on February 9, 2019. The six officers involved, who fired a barrage of 55 bullets at him in 3.5 seconds, have not been charged.

"It's one thing to say the system is broken, but it's been 487 days since Willie was killed. The six police officers were cleared by the VPD and put back to work before Willie was even buried," McCoy's older brother, Kori McCoy, told NBC News on Tuesday, reacting to the city council initiative.

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"In doing so, they felt that their officers never did anything wrong," he said. “My oldest son was a police officer for a short time. I'm not anti-police, I'm anti-bad police… Vallejo has a house full of bad police. They've been allowed by city government to run roughshod."

In the past decade, Vallejo police officers have shot 32 people, 18 of them fatally. No officers have been removed from the force for their role in a police shooting in that time.