California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced today that there is “insufficient evidence” to support criminal charges against Vallejo police officer Jarrett Tonn in the fatal shooting of Sean Monterrosa. The incident, which took place during a night of civil unrest in 2020, has ignited outrage and demands for justice from the community.
The California Department of Justice’s review of the shooting focused solely on potential criminal liability, leaving open the possibility of administrative or civil charges against Officer Tonn. However, the decision not to pursue criminal charges has left many questioning the accountability of law enforcement.
On that fateful night, Officer Tonn, believing Monterrosa was reaching for a gun, fired five shots from an AR-15 rifle, ultimately killing Monterrosa with a fatal shot to the neck and head. It was later revealed that Monterrosa had a claw hammer in his sweatshirt pocket, not a firearm as initially suspected.
Attorney General Bonta acknowledged the significance of Monterrosa’s life and the pain his family and the Bay Area community continue to endure. He emphasized the importance of transparent and thorough reviews of such incidents, while also working towards policy solutions to ensure law enforcement is responsive to the needs of their communities.
The decision not to press charges against Officer Tonn has sparked outrage from Monterrosa’s family and their lawyer, Lee Merritt. They have criticized the lack of accountability within the Vallejo Police Department and expressed their disappointment in Tonn’s reinstatement and subsequent back pay.
Merritt called the decision “appalling” and highlighted Tonn’s history of firing his weapon at unarmed citizens, stating that the Vallejo community can no longer have faith in him as a law enforcement officer. The Monterrosa family has been actively participating in rallies and city council meetings, demanding tangible changes and justice for Sean’s death.
While the criminal review process concluded without charges, both the Department of Justice and expert reports have recommended specific improvements to the tactics used by the officers involved in the shooting. These recommendations aim to prevent future use-of-force incidents like the one that tragically took Monterrosa’s life.
In addition to the criminal review, the Department of Justice also conducted an investigation into the possible destruction of evidence by the Vallejo Police Department. It was discovered that the windshield of the officer’s vehicle involved in the shooting had been replaced, potentially compromising crucial evidence. However, the DOJ concluded that the officers involved in the decision to replace the windshield did not act with criminal intent to suppress or destroy evidence.
The article event took place in Vallejo, Solano County, California, United States.
As the community grapples with the Attorney General’s decision, the DOJ continues to work towards implementing crucial reforms within the Vallejo Police Department. A civil stipulated judgment has been negotiated, aiming to address the numerous areas that require improvement and modernization to ensure constitutional policing. The judgment includes recommendations to prevent use-of-force incidents and enhance civilian complaints, bias-free policing, and oversight.
The fatal shooting of Sean Monterrosa has once again brought attention to the need for transparency, accountability, and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. As the calls for justice grow louder, the hope remains that meaningful change will be implemented to prevent similar tragedies in the future.