California DOJ declines to charge Vallejo officer who fatally shot Sean Monterrosa

The Vallejo police officer who shot through the windshield of an unmarked car and killed Sean Monterrosa in 2020 will not face criminal charges due to insufficient evidence, California's attorney general announced on Tuesday.

Attorney General Rob Bonta conducted an independent DOJ review into the actions of Officer Jarrett Tonn's to determine whether he acted criminally when he fatally shot the 22-year-old on June 2, 2020 outside a Walgreens in the heated aftermath of George Floyd protests in Vallejo. 

Tonn said he thought Monterrosa had a gun, but it was actually a hammer in the victim's waistband. Police were at Walgreens because of reports of looting at the store.

The state's review of the case focused only on potential criminal liability, the attorney general's office said. Action could still be taken as a civil case, Bonta said.

In a statement, Monterrosa's family said they were disappointed in the AG's decision to not hold the officer accountable.

"However, our fight does not end with his decision," the family statement said. "And we will work with our legal team to explore options." 

As part of the investigation, the DOJ reviewed dispatch records, 911 recordings, surveillance video, witness and officer interviews, and the autopsy report.

In order for Bonta to charge the officer with homicide, the DOJ must believe that the evidence proved guilt of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt and that the evidence was sufficient to warrant conviction.

"Based on the relevant legal standard, DOJ determined there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer did not act in self-defense or in defense of his partner officers," Bonta's office said.

The DOJ also investigated the possible destruction of evidence by the Vallejo Police Department. After the shooting of Monterrosa, the police department replaced the damaged windshield from the unmarked pickup where Tonn fired five shots.

In order to charge destruction of evidence, the DOJ would have to prove that the officers acted with criminal intent.

"DOJ concluded that the officers involved in the decision to replace the windshield were unconnected to the shooting, and that the officers did not act with a criminal intent to suppress or destroy evidence when they had the windshield replaced and returned the vehicle to service," state prosecutors said.

Tonn was dismissed from the Vallejo force in 2021, after an independent investigator found he did not act within reason when he shot Monterrosa. 

However, in August, Tonn was reinstated to the department with full back pay after prevailing in arbitration about his termination. 

Bonta's office has investigated the shootings of 52 unarmed people in California since the law, AB 1506, went into effect in 2021. Of those, his team has closed five cases including Monterrosa's, all of which found no criminal wrongdoing by police. 

Both police groups and progressive reformers are both pointing to the length of time and end results as proof that a law giving Bonta the mandate to investigate these deadly shootings is a pointless, bureaucratic exercise. 

Brian Marvel, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, or PORAC, told KTVU over the summer that these investigations are redundant. 

"The current officer-involved shootings are investigated mostly by two departments, and then they're also investigated by the district attorney's office. So you literally have three side-by-side investigations going on at the same time," he said in a prior interview. 

Conversely, the left-leaning Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, or CURYJ, oppose the AG's investigations because they believe Bonta and his prosecutors are still too close to police to fairly determine whether an officer-involved shooting is justified.

KTVU's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.