Vallejo police lieutenant on leave after evidence in shooting destroyed

A city source confirms to KTVU:  Vallejo police Lt. Michael Nichelini is on paid leave, after the windshield of the police truck involved in the deadly shooting of Sean Monterrosa was destroyed.

The source said Nichelini, first identified by the news site Open Vallejo, is also under investigation for allegedly allowing the unmarked truck to be put back into service with a new window - without consulting the police chief or city attorney. A second officer is also on leave.

"It's clear obstruction of justice to destroy evidence, a flat criminal offense," said civil rights attorney John Burris, who represents Monterrosa's family. 

"This is a law-enforcement officer with experience, that you know you don't destroy evidence, he's not the kind of - he shouldn't have been thinking he can make that decision as to whether it was valuable evidence or not," Burris said.

The attorney said the windshield was, in fact, a key piece of evidence, because police body-cam video doesn't show Monterrosa's actions before he was shot. A detective fired his rifle from the back seat of the truck after mistaking Monterrosa's hammer for a gun.

Nichelini is president of the Vallejo police union, which represents all officers of all ranks with the exception of Chief Shawny Williams. Nichelini's father once served as Vallejo's top cop - and in fact hired his son, a former officer in Oakland.

Nichelini, the police union and the union's attorney did not respond to requests for comment by KTVU.

"This wasn't too much of a surprise for those of us who are familiar with his behavior historically," said civil rights attorney Melissa Nold.

Nold said Nichelini secretly recorded her during a Vallejo City Council meeting last fall. 

Open Vallejo obtained 15 minutes of video showing Nold on Nichelini's phone. The two dislike each other because Nold has represented many families in lawsuits against Vallejo police. 

Nold said at the next council meeting, Nichelini "walked up to me, you know fast and looking at his face and his physical posture, it appeared that he wanted to fight me. I've never seen anything quite like it. He went up on me like there was going to be some kind of physical confrontation."