A man suspected of robbing a pharmacy in the San Francisco Bay area was fatally shot by officers, after he kneeled in what appears to be a surrender, with police mistaking a hammer for a firearm.
Sean Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco was the first confirmed death at the hands of law enforcement in California since protests rocked the country last week in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said officers were responding to calls involving a Walgreens early Tuesday (local time) when the shooting occurred.
Chief Williams said police intended to “stop the looting” and arrest perpetrators.
Police saw about a dozen people suspected of stealing in the parking lot of the store, according to Chief Williams and one of the cars rammed into a police vehicle and prompted a wild chase.
At the same time, officers spotted Mr Monterrosa near the building, with what appeared to be a weapon, according to Chief Williams.
“This individual appeared to be running toward the black sedan when suddenly he stopped, taking a kneeling position, and placing his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a handgun,” Williams said.
Through a police car windscreen, an officer fired at Mr Monterrosa five times. What police believed to be a handgun was actually a 15-inch hammer tucked into his pocket.
“This young man was shot multiple times while he was on his knees and appeared to be trying to surrender,”John Burris, an attorney for the family said according to the Associated Press.
Mr Burris acknowledged tensions were high.
“But one has to maintain control and you don’t get to arbitrarily shoot someone in a panic, just because the situation is excitable.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Mr Monterrosa’s family cover the funeral and legal fees.
“He was a wonderful son, brother, friend who touched the lives of those around him,” the GoFundMe says.
“He was loyal, hard working, and had a heart of gold. He was truly one of a kind.”
Details of the shooting were revealed even as some California counties and cities planned to end curfews after days of largely peaceful protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The officer who shot Mr Monterrosa is an 18-year veteran who has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
Video of cop kneeling on black man, before George Floyd died
A video taken a week before George Floyd’s death shows police arresting a black man, with one officer kneeling on his neck during the arrest.
The video, which was filmed on May 18 surfaced on social media and has now prompted an internal investigation within the Sarasota Police Department in Florida.
“You got your knee on my man’s neck, man,” someone is heard telling police off camera, while another man is pleading with officers.
According to WWSB, the police department were unaware of the incident until it surfaced on social media.
On Twitter and Facebook, the Sarasota Police Department have released a summary of the incident and the black man in the video being arrested has been identified as Patrick Carroll.
“I’m upset. I’m not going to stop until somebody has a reasonable explanation as to why you [police] detained him in that matter,” Mr Carroll’s mother, Terria Carroll told WWSB.
“And it escalated and it resulted on him being on the ground. Couldn’t breathe, yelling and screaming and pleading to just really understand why he was detained.”
According to Sarasota Police Department, the department was tagged in the video of the arrest on June 1.
“After viewing several videos, Chief DiPino immediately initiated a formal Internal Affairs investigation and placed the officer on administrative leave,” Sarasota Police Department wrote on Facebook.
“Chief DiPino was disturbed to see an officer kneeling on the head and neck of an individual in the video.
“While it appears the Officer eventually moves his leg to the individual’s back, this tactic is not taught, used or advocated by our agency.”
In the video, it appears the officer is on Mr Carroll’s neck for about 30 seconds before briefly turning to the men filming the arrest and then resumed putting his knee on Mr Carroll’s neck for the remainder of the video it appears.
On June 1, we were tagged on social media showing a portion of a video with Officers arresting an individual on May 18, 2020. After viewing several videos, Chief DiPino immediately initiated an I.A. investigation & placed the officer on admin leave. More @ https://t.co/QRZRpR5xnJ pic.twitter.com/KvyPJaCIDG— Sarasota Police Department (@SarasotaPD) June 2, 2020
“That’s what I’m saying, he’s got his knee in my man’s neck,” one of the men off camera is heard saying at 1.18 in the video.
Mr Carroll was charged with domestic violence, felon in possession of ammunition and resisting arrest.
“The individual did not require medical attention nor did the individual complain of injuries during the incident,” Sarasota Police said on Facebook, also adding the department did not receive any complaints from citizens regarding the video.
The officer who had his knee on Mr Carroll’s neck was placed on administrative leave on Monday, WWSB. reported.
"An incident like this is a defining moment for any community but we don’t want it to define us. We need to work to rebuild those bridges that might’ve been burned or damaged in regards to this video, Sarasota police Deputy Chief Patrick Robinson told WWSB.
with Associated Press
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