VALLEJO, Calif. - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday announced a comprehensive policing plan to revamp Vallejo Police Department policies and practices and increase public trust.
"The review will aim to support effective policing through improvements in use-of-force procedures, anti-bias and community policing, and accountability by focusing on training, policy, and transparency in alignment with national standards, best practices, current and emerging research and community expectations," the attorney general's office said in a statement.
The announcement comes after several high-profile officer-involved shootings in Vallejo, including the death of 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa who officers days ago thought had a gun which later turned out to be a hammer and the killing of Willie McCoy in a Taco Bell drive-thru last year. Officers fired more than 55 rounds at McCoy in 3.5 seconds.
Both cases have brought about raised concerns among residents and calls for transparency from the embattled police department that’s been hit with multiple accusations of officer misconduct.
The California Department of Justice will work alongside the City of Vallejo, and VPD for three years, coming up with policies to reform and transform policing in the city, to ultimately restore trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.
Vallejo city officials and Police Chief Shawny Williams said they welcomed the review.
"The biggest steps are ahead of us," Williams said. "I welcome all voices to the table. We are stronger together."
Becerra said, “When our communities speak up, we must listen — and, in recent days, people across California and the nation, and in Vallejo have bravely come together to make their voices heard. This is only a first step in our broader fight for racial justice. We must all do our part, and we must do it now.”
Civil rights attorney John Burris represents Monterrosa's family and has sued Vallejo police many times in the past.
"From our point of view, it's about time, and hopefully their involvement will save lives, save acts of brutality and cause the department to be more accountable."
In a closed session meeting on Friday, Vallejo City Council unanimously approved a resolution directing the city attorney to request an independent investigation criminal review of Monterossa's death by the California Department of Justice.
Backed by the mayor of Vallejo, the item will go on the council's June 9 agenda. Solano County District Attorney's office and Vallejo P.D. are conducting their own separate investigations of the shooting.
Late Friday, Vallejo Police Officers' Association responded to the shooting death of Monterrosa. They maintained that the officer involved in that shooting used deadly force as a last resort and had no other option to protect himself from being shot.
In addition, they said the officer involved has received death threats to him and his children.
Police have not identified the officer involved. However, Vallejo Times Herald and a local online publication identified Det. Jarrett Tonn as the officer involved. He has had three previous incidents of firing his weapon while on duty, none of which were fatal.
"And now my brother's the fourth," said Michelle Monterrosa before bursting into tears. "I barely have time to mourn and cry because I have so much anger. I feel the fire in me that I have to fight for my brother."
KTVU spoke with Monterrosa's two sister's on Friday at 24th and Mission streets in San Francisco's Mission District where community groups held a spiritual healing ceremony in his memory.
The sisters describe a close-loving relationship with their brother as if they were triplets. They said he loved to draw and was well-connected in the community. He was supposed to start a union carpenter job on Friday.
"We lost a beautiful life. A life that had so much potential," said Ashley Monterrosa. "He just had so much going on for him."
"How is my brother a threat to you while you're in your car? You have metal protecting you," Michelle said. "A life is not replaceable. Materialistic things, you can get those back.
About 40 minutes before he was killed, the sisters showed a text message their brother sent them of a petition he wanted them to sign for justice for George Floyd.
The sisters are calling on Vallejo police to release body-camera footage of the deadly shooting and want the officer to be charged.