Deadly shootings from inside cop cars raising questions
OAKLAND, Calif. - It's been happening over and over: Bay Area law enforcement officers fatally shooting suspects from inside police vehicles.
"It's very alarming, and does not appear to be good police practices," said civil rights attorney John Burris.
Although many departments frown on the practice, some officers say it's allowed if they feel they could be seriously injured or killed. But Burris said the risks are too great.
"Shooting from the inside of a car is particularly a very dangerous thing, because one you can create danger for the driver of the car, including danger for yourself if you have a car that can be out of control," Burris said.
The most recent incident happened in Vallejo, where an officer shot and killed Sean Monterrosa after firing a rifle from the back seat of an unmarked police truck. Body-cam video shows gunfire piercing the truck's front windshield.
Asked about whether the shooting was appropriate, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said, "This is an ongoing investigation. It would be completely and entirely inappropriate for me, as a police chief, to interject myself into this investigation."
But it's no secret that firing through car windows can lead to injury from shattered glass, or potentially change the trajectory of the bullet.
Don Cameron, a former police officer who trains law enforcement officers, said, "I don't think it's best practice to shoot through the windshield of a car, because the glass does splatter back. But if you think that there's a threat, to yourself or someone else, I don't think any policies cover that particular aspect."
Back in April, Richmond police Officer Joe DeOrian, a department firearms instructor, fired shots through his driver-side window after police say a murder suspect in a van brandished a gun at him during a chase from Oakland.
Moments later, that van rammed an Oakland police car. That's when Oakland police Officer Roberto Recendez, stuck in the back seat, fired shots through the front windshield. The suspect, who was also shot by four other officers, died.
In 2017, a carjacking suspect was shot and killed in San Francisco's Bayview by a rookie police officer who fired through the passenger-side window. The suspect was unarmed. The officer was fired.
"To me, a gun being shot outside of a car when the officer is in a position of safety seems to me is unjustified," Burris said.
All three shootings are under investigation.