On June 2, 2020, our lives changed forever when our beloved brother Sean Monterrosa was brutally killed by the Vallejo Police while on his knees with his hands raised. He is one of the 19 people killed by the Vallejo Police Department since 2011.
After months of waiting, the Vallejo Police Department finally fired the officer who killed our brother after a department-commissioned independent report showed there was no reason the officer should have fired his gun. While we appreciate this administrative step, it cannot be the end of Sean’s story.
If there is to be justice, Attorney General Rob Bonta must prosecute former Officer Jarrett Tonn.
Growing up in Bernal Hights, Sean was a kindhearted and humble young man who loved his community and the San Francisco Giants. As a teen he worked at the Boys and Girls Club in the Excelsior District and was deeply interested in the history of Latino culture and art in San Francisco. It was his passion for social justice that took him to Vallejo to attend a George Floyd protest the night he was killed.
Sean was killed when former Officer Tonn, sitting in the back seat of an unmarked pickup truck fired a rifle five times through the windshield of the truck while it was driving up to a Walgreens responding to reports of looting. An independent investigation commissioned by the Vallejo Police Department found Tonn violated departmental policy when he shot our unarmed brother.
In the termination notice, former Police Chief Shawny Williams, noted Tonn’s concerns about looting “did not give you [Tonn] a reasonable basis to believe that Mr. Monterrosa, in particular, posed a threat of death or serious bodily injury to you or anyone else.”
We are relieved to know Tonn and the other officers involved in the shooting are no longer working for the Vallejo Police. We understand firing a police officer is rare, but it cannot be considered justice for our brother’s death. To send a clear message about what kind of policing — and violence — will be tolerated in Vallejo and across the state, the attorney general must act.
While the tide is turning in the wake of 2020 and we are hopeful Attorney General Bonta’s investigation into Sean’s death will lead to criminal charges, as his sisters, we will not rest until there is a better pathway for bringing justice to victims of police violence. For far too long, victims who look like Sean and come from working communities like ours aren’t considered real victims, viewed instead under the false assumption that we are somehow responsible for our own victimization.
A failure to hold former Officer Tonn accountable for his actions flies in the face of the justice reforms Californians have demanded and is counter to all evidence on how to actually improve public safety. A fair process to determine accountability for violence is a critical component to justice and the healing process of victims, especially when the violence is committed by police sworn to protect and serve. Without accountability and justice, the fractious relationship between police and the communities they are tasked with keeping safe will deteriorate further, negatively impacting everyone’s public safety.
While there is more to healing than a successful prosecution of the perpetrator, it is a central part of bringing closure and peace to victims and survivors of violence. Ensuring all victims of violence are given access to holistic opportunities to deal with grief interrupts cycles of crime and makes communities safer. This is the approach that must be baked into our justice system — with full healing as the pathway to public safety.
Michelle and Ashley Monterrosa’s brother Sean was killed by a now-former Vallejo Police officer.
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