Vallejo PD chief abruptly resigns months after police union's vote of no confidence

Melanie Woodrow Image
Saturday, November 5, 2022
Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams abruptly resigns
Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams has abruptly resigned, a spokesperson for the city said on Friday.

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- The City of Vallejo announced Friday that Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams has resigned after three years.

Chief Williams' resignation comes about three months after the Vallejo Police Officers Association and their attorneys held a news conference declaring they had no confidence in the Chief.

"My time with the City of Vallejo has been rewarding both professionally and personally," said Williams in a statement about his departure. "I arrived at the City during a challenging and controversial period in the City's history. It was my goal as Police Chief to build collaborative partnerships between the Department and the community. While the Department still has strides to make toward its ultimate goals, together we have accomplished many tasks that I feel have put VPD on the right path to success and I wish the City and Department all the best."

During his nearly three year tenure, Vallejo experienced a significant decline in police shootings, use of force incidents, and citizen complaints and claims, according to a news release put out by the City.

RELATED: Vallejo PD's use of force not objectively reasonable in Sean Monterrosa's death, investigation finds

Williams was frequently attacked by the Vallejo Police Officers Association, the officer's union headed by another person Williams fired, Michael Nichelini. The union gave a vote of "no confidence" against the chief and blamed him for low morale, attrition and the rise of crime due to an understaffed force.

"I think he's probably the first person that has ever done right by the department," said Civil Rights Attorney Melissa Nold.

Williams joined the force as chief in the fall of 2019 and was instrumental in furthering accountability in the department in the wake of bad press surrounding the so-called "Gone Girl" kidnapping case, high officer-involved shootings, and the badge-bending scandal where officers bent the tips of their badges to mark the shooting of suspects.

RELATED: Vallejo POA votes no confidence in Police Chief Shawny Williams as tensions grow

"He had been terminating officers that were problematic, he seemed to be holding people accountable, the things that we said we wanted in a Chief," Nold said.

But it's an opinion that was not held by many Vallejo Police Officers or their attorneys, including Mike Rains, Attorney for the Vallejo Police Officers' Association.

"Hopefully the city will now get a good, capable, ethical leader to run Vallejo Police Department like it should be," said Rains.

Approximately seven months after Chief Williams joined VPD, an officer shot and killed Sean Monterrosa.

The Department waited 38.5 hours to announce Monterrosa's death, even though the I-Team confirmed Monterrosa was pronounced dead approximately one hour after the shooting.

Monterrosa was shot and killed by Officer Jarrett Tonn in June of 2020 during the George Floyd protests. Williams fired Tonn last month.

"It took a long time for us to just trust the Chief," said Sean's sister, Michelle Monterrosa.

Michelle and sister Ashley Monterrosa say Chief Williams earned their confidence, describing a sit-down they had with the Chief around the two year anniversary of Sean's death as "transformational."

"And then to get this news today was kind of disheartening," said Ashley Monterrosa.

"It should not interfere with the process of holding officers accountable for the misconduct that was revealed during his tenure," said their attorney Lee Merritt.

The City Manager has appointed Deputy Chief Jason Ta as Interim Police Chief.

In a statement emailed to ABC7 News, the Vallejo Police Officers' Association writes, "We look forward to working with Interim Chief Ta as the Vallejo Police Department and the Vallejo Police Officers' Association (VPOA) strive to get the OIR recommendations implemented. We are optimistic about the new leadership and look forward to repairing relationships, along with rebuilding internal trust. The VPOA supports any efforts to build a better Vallejo Police Department."

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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