Fired Police Officer Who Killed Sean Monterossa Reinstated in Vallejo Police Department 

By Jojo Kofman, David Greenwald and Isabella Walker 

VALLEJO, CA – Vallejo police detective Jarrett Tonn, responsible for the fatal killing of 22-year-old Sean Monterossa, has been reinstated by the city of Vallejo.

Former detective Tonn fatally shot Monterrosa, of San Francisco, outside a Vallejo Walgreens store in the early morning hours of June 2, 2020, following reports of possible looting.

In a press conference held by the family of Monterrosa last week, Lee Merritt, the attorney for the family, said, “We’re here immediately because Jarrett Tonn has been reinstated by the city of Vallejo, and quite frankly we are here to overrule that decision.”

He added, “We’ve decided as a community that decision cannot stand, and we will not allow (Tonn) or any other terrorist to supervise our communities. This response is not coming from me, it’s coming from the Monterrosa family, it’s coming from the community of Vallejo and the people who are willing to stand for justice in Northern California.”

Merritt announced the community overrides the decision to reinstate Tonn, explaining, “I, personally as an attorney, have decided to put funds aside, to hire a personal security force. We’re going to identify the location that (Tonn) has been assigned to police. We are going to police the community from him.”

Merritt confirmed there will be a case that goes forward against Tonn, and they will demand a change in the law in the name of Sean Monterossa, noting the officer initially claimed they thought Monterrosa was kneeling to get into a shooting position with a weapon.  

But, the suspected gun was actually a hammer tucked into Monterrosa’s sweatshirt pocket, said the family.

A video of the incident, according to the family, contradicts that initial accounting, showing the officer aiming his rifle through the windshield as the pickup is still moving, just as it arrives on the scene.  The officer then fires five shots as the vehicle comes to a stop.

The officer, who has not been identified by the Vallejo police but others have identified as Detective Jarrett Tonn, asked, “What did he point at us?”

“I don’t know, man,” an officer responds.

The shooting officer says, “Oh f***” and then, as they approach Monterrosa, says, “Stupid!”

“He came around, came right at us,” he says.

Then he adds, “I thought that f—ing ax was a gun.”

“I thought he was armed, too, dude,” the captain says.

“You’ll be all right,” the captain tells the officer. “You’ve been through this before.”

The video shows the officers briefly aligning their story and at no point is the officer shown to be separated from other involved officers, standard procedure for California police agencies, according to the family.

“This city (Vallejo) has allowed for unarmed civilians, Black and Brown men, to be killed inhumanely. And it’s not just about Sean, it’s about everybody, and gaining a sense of justice,” said Michelle Monterossa, the oldest sister of Sean Monterossa.

Michelle Monterossa and Ashley Monterossa said the city wants them to give up the fight for justice, given the recent news of Tonn’s reinstatement, but they promised they will not quit.

City of Vallejo Councilmember Tina Arriola relayed a quote written by the Times Herald which said, “Detective Tonn and the VPOA are thankful for the due process rights in California. Tonn and membership of the VPOA will continue to serve and protect the citizens of Vallejo.”

Arriola added, “God help us if that’s the case, and that he (Tonn) will be unleashed on the streets.”

In describing the long history of violence and trauma caused by the Vallejo PD, civil rights attorney Melissa Nold stated, “These people have abused, targeted Black and Brown people in this community for decades. This is not rhetoric, these are not soundbites, these are human beings who have been gunned down.”

Nold added, “People trying to go home on their bicycles, shot in the back and in the back of a head. These are actual murders, this isn’t negligence, this isn’t an officer not being properly trained, these are people that have hunted, targeted, attacked, and killed members of our community.”

Nold continued, “When I heard about Jarrett Tonn getting his job back, it was no surprise to me because one of the many whistleblowers in the department reached out to me via email and said Tonn is working a deal to get his job back. The city of Vallejo, the city attorney’s office, and many prior city council people are complicit. These folks need to be going in handcuffs themselves, not just the killers, the people that destroyed evidence.”

News outlets and reports have revealed that not only has Tonn been rehired as a detective, but he is receiving back pay and benefits that he lost while being unemployed for those 15 months.

Tonn’s reinstatement was decided at an arbitration hearing. Attorney Joshua Olander defended Tonn, noting “while this is a tragedy, the right decision was made based on the law, based on the facts, and we are grateful for due process.”

Open Vallejo stated Tonn is the only officer that’s been fired for killing a civilian in the modern history of Vallejo PD. Seven months after Tonn joined the Vallejo police in 2014, he shot Gerald Brown after a short car chase. In 2017, Tonn wounded and shot Kevin DeCarlo, and six weeks after that shooting he fired shots at Victor Hurtado while Hurtado was running away. 

Dr. Kimberly Mayfield Lynch with the Black Women Organized for Political Action said, “We must address the reinstatement of officer Tonn. who robbed Sean Monterossa of his life … Let us not forget that Sean Monterrosa’s life was extinguished as he was fleeing, as he was innocent, shot in the back of the head. An execution, an assassination, in any other definition. This tragic event marked the third time that officer Tonn had discharged his weapon at an unarmed citizen.”

Attorney Merritt described the federal civil rights lawsuit directed at Tonn and the City of Vallejo, charging, “We are going to prove, which has already been proven emphatically over and over again, that the city is responsible for a pattern and practice of misconduct, violence, and racism.”

Merritt elaborated on the civilian security force in creation, stating, “We are hiring trained professionals, investigators and a licensed weapon carriers, to police this individual by identifying his routes that should be assigned by the city, letting the members of that community know that they’re not safe with him present there, and then those trained hired individuals physically monitoring where he is. When he clocks in, we’ll clock in. When he clocks out, we clock out.”

In an interview at the end of the press conference, Michelle Monterossa stated “The community does not want Jarrett Tonn back on the streets. The people do not feel safe. But also this is an opportunity to think about how we can reimagine public safety.”

Michelle Monterossa urged community members to attend the Vallejo city council meeting on Sept. 12.

About The Author

Jojo Kofman, from San Francisco CA, is a fourth-year student at the University of Vermont. She studies Political Science and Sociology and is passionate about addressing issues in the carceral system. She hopes to pursue a career in law.

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