VALLEJO, Calif. - Vallejo police lieutenants Fabio Rodriguez and Michael Nichelini are on paid leave while the state attorney general investigates why they failed to preserve the windshield linked to the deadly officer-involved shooting of Sean Monterrosa.
"It is for them to gather evidence, and certainly not to destroy evidence," said civil rights attorney John Burris, who represents Monterrosa's family.
But Michael Rains, attorney for the lieutenants countered, "This criticism that there was some wrongdoing and some nefarious plot, is completely outlandish."
Rains said the windshield was replaced for practical reasons. The department needed the truck back in service.
"From an evidentiary standpoint, understand: there is no value to that windshield after the photographing has occurred," Rains said.
Rains said crime-scene technicians thoroughly documented the scene after a detective, identified by sources as Jarrett Tonn, shot and killed Monterrosa by firing through the windshield of a police truck. The detective mistook Monterrosa's hammer for a gun.
Back in 2018, Vallejo police shot and wounded a suspect in Oakland after the suspect fired through the windshield of a police car.
"They processed the window just as they did in this case," Rains said.
The attorney said Chief Shawny Williams has "sold out" the lieutenants.
"Shame on him for doing what he's done. To place these two employees on leave is nothing less than an outrage. And it's demoralizing to the entire department," Rains said.
But Burris noted that the lieutenants have leadership roles. Rodriguez is head of investigations. Nichelini is president of the police union.
"These are men who at high levels, should be setting examples, and they should not be the ones to decide what is relevant evidence or not," Burris said.
The state attorney general's office will refer its findings about the windshield issue to the Solano County DA's office. But neither office is reviewing the shooting itself. If District Attorney Krishna Abrams continues to recuse her office by week's end, Vallejo officials say they could pursue legal action.