CA AG's office declines to conduct independent review of Vallejo PD shooting, killing of 22-year-old man, Solano Co. DA says

SOLANO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Families of victims shot and killed by Vallejo police officers spent the Monday afternoon outside the Solano County District Attorney's Office demanding the DA prosecute officers or recuse herself.

If these families didn't know each other before, they do now.

"We're all members of a club that nobody wants to be a part of," said Kori McCoy, Willie McCoy's brother.

Each family member is connected in some way to a person a Vallejo police officer shot and killed. All of them demanding Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams prosecute the officers or recuse herself.

"It's letting them know that we're not going nowhere," said Paula McGowan, Ronell Foster's mom.

In 2018, Vallejo police shot Foster in the back, she says because he didn't have a headlight on his bicycle. The Vallejo Police Department has said Foster wrestled a flashlight away from an officer and was about to attack him with it.

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"That's how you teach somebody by killing them," said McGowan.

The Solano County District Attorney's Office found the use of force justified.

In 2019, officers shot Willie McCoy more than 50 times at a Taco Bell drive-through where he had fallen asleep with a gun in his lap. The Vallejo Police Department says he appeared to be reaching for the gun as he woke.

RELATED: Community outraged after man shot, killed by police at Taco Bell drive-thru in Vallejo

The Solano County District Attorney's Office has still not made a decision about the case.

"We know 15 months has gone by the family should have a right to know whether you're going to do this or not," said Attorney John Burris.

The newest members of this club, Sean Monterrosa's family, his sisters had just buried him Friday.

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"We wanted to take a week off but we realized there's no time to take off," said Michelle Monterrosa.

The Vallejo Police Department says Monterrosa dropped to a kneeling position and placed his hands above his waist revealing what the officer who shot him believed to be the butt of a handgun. It turned out to be a hammer.

The Solano County District Attorney tells ABC7 News the Attorney General's Office recently declined to conduct an independent review of the case.

"Due to the overwhelming amount of public interest into the officer-involved shooting of Sean Monterrosa, members of the community, city officials, and state officials have all requested the California State Attorney General's Office step in and conduct the investigation and review of this case. Our office has consulted with the Attorney General's Office regarding an independent investigation in order to restore public trust. The Attorney General's Office recently declined to conduct an independent review of the case," wrote Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams in an email to ABC7 News.

The families did not have access to the DA's office Monday without an appointment.

In the emailed statement to ABC7 News, Abrams also wrote, "We understand the anger and frustration that many are feeling in our community and we strongly support the right to speak up and peacefully protest issues that are important to our community."

On Tuesday, the Attorney General's Office sent ABC7 News the following statement explaining why it turned down DA Abrams request to conduct an independent review of the case:

On June 5, the California Department of Justice announced that it would undertake a comprehensive review of the Vallejo Police Department's policing policies and practices. Last week, Attorney General Becerra presented a policing reform agenda for law enforcement statewide that addresses the heart of the concerns powerfully expressed by millions throughout our state and country.

We recognize the important policy discussions concerning the future handling of officer involved shootings, and we intend to be a part of crafting a solution. Currently, the 58 District Attorneys in California are elected and funded through their counties to take on investigations and prosecutions of criminal matters, including officer involved shootings. Absent a conflict of interest, an abuse of discretion or other exceptional circumstances, the Department of Justice does not assume responsibility for local investigations or prosecutions typically handled by local authorities. DOJ does not receive the funding or staffing to enable us to conduct independent investigations or prosecutions of officer involved shooting incidents throughout the state.

Insofar as the Vallejo shootings, DA Abrams did not provide DOJ with information indicating that her office was not capable of conducting a fair and thorough review of these incidents. DA Abrams previously stated that she is confident that she can conduct a fair and thorough review of an officer involved shooting. Her letter to DOJ requesting that DOJ assume the Vallejo investigations and prosecutions points to a lack of community trust in the process that she oversees. This is, of course, an issue of critical importance, and one that the Department of Justice hopes to help Vallejo address by engaging in our recently-announced comprehensive review and reform of the Vallejo Police Department. Attorney General Becerra also offered to DA Abrams that DOJ personnel could be of assistance in aspects of the subject investigations.

We have confidence in District Attorney Abrams' capabilities to fully and fairly complete the investigations before her.
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