Huge and Angry Protest Remains Peaceful in Vallejo over Shooting Death

Organizers and family of Sean Monterrosa gathered on Saturday outside the Vallejo Police Department

Vallejo, CA – The latest in a long series of officer-involved shootings in Vallejo led to an angry march and demonstration on Saturday, as a crowd of what appeared to be more than 500 people came to show support for 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa who was shot and killed last week by Vallejo police.

Official reports say that officers were responding to a looting call, and Monterrosa, just 22, was on his knees when the officer who killed him thought he had a gun. It turned out to be a hammer.

“It appears that Sean Monterrosa had essentially surrendered,” legendary Civil Rights Attorney John Burris, who has represented victims like Monterrosa for nearly half a century, told the Vanguard last week.

“He went down voluntarily to his knees and was in the process of putting his hands up when the officer saw what he said appeared to be a gun and shot him. The officer was not out of the car, Shawn was not chasing him, not threatening him.

“Looting is not a justification for the use of deadly force,” he added. “It’s just property.”

The anger boiled on Saturday—but despite the police in riot gear, and snipers at the ready, it did not boil over.

Attorney Melissa Nold

“These families have been screaming at the city council meetings for ten years,” Attorney Melissa Nold, a Vallejo resident who also works in Burris’ office, told the crowd.  “If you notice none of our city council, mayor, they’re not here with us.

“They don’t come because they know they’ve turned their backs on us,” she said.  She recounted another shooting from 2012, Mario Ramirez.  “If they would have stood up and done the right thing in 2012, and not waited until 2020, Sean would still be alive.

“We’re here now and never again on my soil, on the city where I was born and raised, will we allow another man to be beaten up, murdered on our f-en watch,” she said.

Nold also told the crowd that they have a petition to the DA to turn over the videos.  “She’s not going to charge these murders,” she said.  “On Monday morning we need everyone to call District Attorney Krishna Abrams in Fairfield.  Last year we saw her flying a Blue Lives Matter flag, that tell us she doesn’t give a f- about us.”

Nold noted that Abrams has recused herself from this case.

Adante Pointer

Adante Pointer, also in Burris’ office, said “there have been too many black and brown men that have bled on these streets.”  He said, “(The police) have gotten a free pass.

“This is the outrage that they caused.  This is the hurt that they caused.  This is the pain that they caused,” he said.  “There have been too many names.  I have been suing the Vallejo police department since 2005.”

He described the incident from 2005 where police tackled and injured a 77-year-old military vet as he walked across the bridge.  A caller phoned the police claiming that the man was dangling a kid over the bridge.

“The police officer, rather than walking up and asking him a question, or seeing what was going on, in the field tackled him and broke his damn shoulder,” Pointer explained.  “He wasn’t doing anything.  He was unarmed.  Seventy-seven years old, a person who put his life on the line for his community and for our country, a military vet.  The police department looked the other way.”

He read off the list and proclaimed that “we’re done looking the other way.”

Ashley Monterrosa (left) and Michelle Monterrosa (right)

Michelle Monterrosa and Ashley Monterrosa, the sisters of Sean, spoke as well and thanked everyone for coming out.

Looking at the line of police officers, Michelle proclaimed, “What if this was your son?

“My brother did not deserve to be murdered,” she said.  “We lost our only brother.

“My brother’s last words was to sign a petition for George Floyd to get justice,” she said.

Civil Rights Attorney John Burris is representing the family

John Burris also addressed the crowd.

“This is what’s absolutely needed.  We are at a very critical time here where it’s not only a moment but a potential movement,” the long time attorney said.  “All of you can participate in this movement to hold police accountable.  To reform them so that they understand that they’re not an island onto themselves.  That they are accountable to each and every one of us.”

Burris called for the shooting video to be released immediately.  Under current state law, the police have 45 days to release the video of an officer-involved shooting.  But they have the discretion to release it earlier.

“We also know that they’re not required to wait 45 days,” Burris said.  “It’s up to the police department itself to release it when they can, when they want to.  It is up to us, to demand that the video (coverage) be released immediately.  If there was nothing to hide, then release it.

“We know from police statements, that Sean was on his knees,” he said.  “When you’re on your knees with your hands up, that is surrendering.  That is not a basis to shoot and kill him.

“It is fundamentally wrong to shoot someone who is trying to surrender,” he said.

Last week John Burris told the Vanguard this is “an historical moment,” which he said “is brought about by the consequence of what has taken place.”

The Attorney General’s office for the first time has agreed to investigate the Vallejo Police Department’s pattern and practices.

“I have been dealing with this AG’s office now for several years trying to get them to focus in on Vallejo… and no response,” Burris explained.

But “another shooting takes place” and “for whatever reason they decided this was the time to get involved” and, while he realizes it is political, “nevertheless it is important that the move has taken place.”

Burris said he was not sure specifically what this entails other than it “is an expansive review of department practices,” where they will be looking for “any pattern or practice of unconstitutional violations.

“That’s a broad term but that’s the language we use when we look at pattern and practice cases,” he said, where they look to see if there is any ratification of misconduct, whether or not the use of force is consistently within the Constitution, whether traffic stops are handled consistently, and whether the department’s policies are up to date.

The “pattern and practice” is the term of art for the US Department of Justice’s chief tool for accomplishing police reform—determining whether the department in engaging in a systemic violations of the Constitution in their policing with regard to use of force, traffic stops and other police misconduct.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice –

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

15 thoughts on “Huge and Angry Protest Remains Peaceful in Vallejo over Shooting Death”

  1. Alan Miller

    Good to see this story getting some coverage.  I’ve been following since the day it happened, and wondered why it wasn’t getting any ‘traction’.  I’ve asked several people who have been active in protests, and none that I asked knew his name or that an alleged police killing had taken place in Vallejo.  I wondered if it was because he wasn’t black, or if it was buried in the tsunami of news over George Floyd, or because there was not yet a video released.  It’s good to see this has been getting coverage the last day or so, and clearly a lot a black people were at the protest in support (from the pictures).  So at this point I think it’s a bit of the tsunami, and am wondering just how damaging that video is going to be when it comes out — as in, will it spark a wave of local outrage and riots?  It very well may.  I appreciate, that even with all the anger, this protest was not violent.  As I said before, there is something not right about the Vallejo P.D. — this has been clear for a long time.  The story is heartbreaking, and the sisters are so devastated.  I have yet to read of a credible excuse for what happened — thinking he had gun, but not even drawing the gun that didn’t exist?  This may turn into a case that inflames the Bay Area when that video is released.  If the Vallejo P.D. knows how bad it is going to look — as unfortunately our society seems to run on video — they could be really spooked about releasing it.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Your comments are spot on. I think the story just got buried in the avalanche. I picked it up when the state took an interest. I notice KGO out of SF have a few i-TEAM investigations on it as well. A lot of anger out there and the cops do themselves no favors with a needlessly aggressive posture. They had frickin’ snipers for crying out loud.

    2. Tia Will


      I agree with your reasons for this story getting “buried”. I think once the video is out, more attention will come with it.

      A second point that is deeply disturbing to me is the “but I thought he had a gun ( or knife, or something dangerous to me)”  line is getting very old. Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark & now Sean Monterrrosa, all young men of color now dead because a police officer decided to shoot first and ask questions later. I don’t pretend to know if this is a failure in hiring officers ill-suited to the demands of their job, or if it is a failure of training, or if we should have a non-weaponized component of the community safety to perform routine patrols and handle non-life-threatening situations. But I do know that many other countries manage to maintain safer societies than ours without militarized police.

      I think it is time for us to change our basic model for community well being.

      1. Ron Oertel

        A second point that is deeply disturbing to me is the “but I thought he had a gun ( or knife, or something dangerous to me)”  line is getting very old.

        It is.  But, a lot of people do have guns (other than police). The fear is not entirely unfounded.

        Didn’t Davis lose a police officer that way, last year? And yet – Davis is supposedly one of the “safer” communities.


        1. John Hobbs

          ” The fear is not entirely unfounded”

          But the excuse almost always is.

          The cops justify shooting you oryour child to death in your car because they thought the cell phone  was a gun. It happens frequently by the way

          Try telling the cops that the officer you shot and killed approached you with their REAL weapon drawn for no reason and made a threat to shoot you. You’re going to jail for life and the cop had a real weapon. I believe Indiana passed a law so citizens were allowed to shoot police in such a situation.

        2. Ron Oertel

          Try telling the cops that the officer you shot and killed approached you with their REAL weapon drawn for no reason and made a threat to shoot you.

          Not necessarily disagreeing with you, John.  But what you’re describing is (already) illegal. I would disagree regarding your statement that there’s “no reason”. There’s always a reason, of some type.

          We (as a society) ask police to do a job that puts their own lives in danger.

          I would point out that the guy who actually shot the police (who killed his girlfriend, in her own apartment) apparently isn’t facing any charges.  Nor should he.


        3. John Hobbs

          ” But what you’re describing is (already) illegal.”


          Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine in United States federal law which shields government officials from being held personally liable for discretionary actions performed within their official capacity, unless their actions violate “clearly established” federal law, even if their victim’s civil rights were violated.

          A stringer I knew was shot and killed by a cop who claimed he thought a hand-held camcorder was a weapon, even though the guy had a “PRESS” badge clearly visible. It barely rated a departmental review and the cop was back on full duty the next week.

        4. Ron Oertel

          discretionary actions performed within their official capacity

          Is drawing a weapon and threatening to shoot someone for no reason within official capacity?

          (Using your words.)



        5. John Hobbs

          ” Is drawing a weapon and threatening to shoot someone for no reason within official capacity?”

          It is almost always deemed so by presiding authorities.

        6. Ron Oertel

          It is almost always deemed so by presiding authorities.

          Therein lies one of the problems.

          It seems that this particular issue wouldn’t apply regarding the latest incident in Vallejo, regardless. The incident apparently began with a “reason” within “official capacity”, under what I understand to be the law. (Regarding that limited issue, only.)

      2. Ron Oertel

        “The officer was not out of the car, . . .”

        That part seems highly unusual, to me.  I recall reading that he shot right through his own windshield.

      3. David Greenwald Post author

        “Didn’t Davis lose a police officer that way, last year?”

        No.  The officer that Davis lost was ambushed from behind and never saw the guy come up to her on a bike in the dark.

        1. Ron Oertel

          I’m aware of the circumstances.  The officer was shot and killed with a gun (in supposedly “safe” Davis).

          By the way, were there massive grass-roots protests, regarding that?  (Other than by officials and the police, themselves?)

          It would be nice if we all cared about each other’s lives, wouldn’t it?

          Do you think a lot of people have guns in Vallejo? Do you think there’s a lot of violent crime, there?

          And, should the police be the ones without guns?

  2. Alan Miller

    What makes this case so clearly wrong — by from what I’ve heard so far (correct me if I’m wrong) — is that the officer didn’t even try to draw the gun — um, hammer.  I can understand how the assignment of fault can get more muddled when someone pulls out an object, especially in the dark.  But all the officer said was he thought he *saw* a gun due to a bulge.  I don’t see how that holds up as an excuse to fire under any circumstance.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for