Vallejo police officer shoots, kills 22-year-old on his knees after mistaking hammer for gun, chief says

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- Vallejo police shot and killed a 22-year-old following a night of looting early Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Chief Shawny Williams said Sean Monterrosa was on his knees and an officer saw what appeared to be a gun in his sweatshirt. It turned out to be a hammer.

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Sean Monterrosa was on his knees outside a Walgreens when a Vallejo Police Officer fired at him 5 times through his vehicle's windshield. One of those shots hit and killed the 22-year-old, who police say they believed was armed.

The fatal shooting came after a night of multiple calls for looting including to the Walgreens.

Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said it appeared Monterrosa was going to get into a getaway vehicle before changing his mind.

"This individual appeared to be running toward the black sedan but suddenly stopped taking a kneeling position and placing his hands above his waist revealing what appeared to be the butt of handgun investigations later revealed that the weapon was a long 15-inch hammer tucked into the pocket of his sweatshirt," said Chief Williams.

Chief Williams says the officer who shot Monterrosa is an 18-year veteran. Chief Williams did not release his name.

Attorney John Burris is representing Monterrosa's family.

"He did not see Mr. Monterrosa put his hands on it in a threatening way. So the question here is what threat if any did he actually present," said Burris.

Of the two getaway vehicles filled with suspected looters that drove off, one rammed a responding police vehicle injuring an officer. Police caught the suspects from one vehicle in Contra Costa County. The suspects in the black sedan got away.

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Chief Williams said the department has made many changes since he arrived including to its de-escalation policy.

"How was de-escalation used here," asked ABC7 News I-Team reporter Melanie Woodrow.

"Well I'll say this when they responded to the Walgreens the intent was to stop the looting and to arrest the perpetrators if necessary, the officers reacted to a perceived threat," said Chief Williams.

The department has 45 days to release body-worn camera video but Chief Williams says he plans to do so sooner.

"Based on your experience of 27 years was this excessive force," asked I-TEAM reporter Melanie Woodrow.

"Like I said the District Attorney is going to look at this and our internal affairs will look at it," said Chief Williams as people in the crowd began shouting at Williams who would not answer with his opinion.

The officer who fired the fatal shot has been placed on routine paid administrative leave as have the witness officers.

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