California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Friday that his office will review the Vallejo Police Department and recommend reforms to use-of-force policies and measures involving bias and community policing.
The announcement came days after officers shot and killed a 22-year-old man suspected of stealing amid a night of protests.
“This review and reform agreement we announce today with the city of Vallejo represents a critical step the Vallejo Police Department must take to build trust with people who have lost faith in them,” Becerra said.
He said the review was tied to recent high-profile officer-involved shootings, not a specific incident.
“We’ve been working with leaders in Vallejo for quite some time to reach this agreement,” Becerra said.
Police Chief Shawny Williams said he has implemented a number of reforms since taking over the department, including a stronger body-worn camera policy, improved de-escalation policy, and a program to regularly analyze use-of-force data.
“But the biggest steps are ahead of us,” he said. “I welcome all voices to the table. We are stronger together.”
A similar review of Sacramento police after the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark found in 2019 that the department should clarify policies on use of force and firearms and end the use of chokeholds.
Vallejo police responding to reports of a break-in at a pharmacy early Tuesday initially said Sean Monterrosa had a firearm in the waistband of his pants, but the item turned out to be a hammer. Police said Monterrosa was on his knees with his arms raised when an officer shot five times from behind a police windshield, hitting him once.
“My brother was kneeling and surrendering, yet you shot my brother from your vehicle through your windshield,” Michelle Monterrosa told the San Francisco Chronicle, referring to the unnamed police officer involved in the incident. “How much more cowardly can you be?”
Vallejo, a diverse city in the San Francisco Bay Area, has seen other police shootings. In February 2019, a local rapper named Willie McCoy was sleeping in his car when police shot him 55 times in 3.5 seconds after they said he reached for a gun.
Body camera video showed McCoy, 21, with his head slumped to his left as police surrounded his car with guns drawn. He scratched his left shoulder, sat up and turned away from officers who were yelling for him to show his hands.
Becerra said the review would also look at allegations that critics of the police department in the city were intimidated for speaking out.