Man, 22, shot and killed by police in Bay Area after officer mistakes hammer for gun, chief says

A 22-year-old man who was on his knees was shot and killed by police in the Bay Area earlier this week after an officer mistook a hammer for a gun, authorities said.
VALLEJO, Calif. -- A 22-year-old man who was on his knees was shot and killed by police in the Bay Area earlier this week after an officer mistook a hammer for a gun, authorities said.

Vallejo Police fatally shot Sean Monterrosa following an outbreak of looting early Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Chief Shawny Williams said Monterrosa was on his knees outside a Walgreens when an officer fired at him five times through his police vehicle's windshield.

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The deadly shooting came after a night of multiple calls for looting, including at the Walgreens.

Williams said it appeared Monterrosa was going to get into a getaway vehicle before changing his mind.

"This individual appeared to be running toward the black sedan but suddenly stopped, taking a kneeling position and placing his hands above his waist revealing what appeared to be the butt of handgun. Investigations later revealed that the weapon was a long 15-inch hammer tucked into the pocket of his sweatshirt," Williams said.

The chief added that the officer who shot Monterrosa is an 18-year veteran. The officer's name has not been released by law enforcement.

Attorney John Burris is representing Monterrosa's family.

"He did not see Mr. Monterrosa put his hands on it in a threatening way. So the question here is what threat, if any, did he actually present?" Burris said.

Of the two getaway vehicles filled with suspected looters that drove off, one rammed a responding police vehicle, injuring an officer.

Police caught the suspects from one vehicle in Contra Costa County. The suspects in the black sedan fled the scene.

Williams said the department has made many changes since he arrived, including to its de-escalation policy.

ABC7 News I-Team reporter Melanie Woodrow, with Eyewitness News' sister station in the Bay Area, asked how de-escalation was used in this incident.

"When they responded to the Walgreens, the intent was to stop the looting and to arrest the perpetrators if necessary, the officers reacted to a perceived threat," said Chief Williams.

The department has 45 days to release body-worn camera video, but Williams said he plans to do so sooner.

Woodrow asked the chief if he believes the shooting was a use of excessive force.

"The district attorney is going to look at this and our internal affairs will look at it," he said, as people in the crowd began shouting at Williams, who would not answer with his opinion.

The officer who fired the fatal shot has been placed on routine paid administrative leave as have the witness officers, officials said.
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