by John Glidden | April 6, 2021
VALLEJO – Five days after Sean Monterrosa was shot dead by Vallejo police detective Jarrett Tonn outside a local Walgreens, City Manager Greg Nyhoff confirmed Tonn’s identity to at least two members of the Vallejo City Council, newly released emails show.
In response to an email from then-Vallejo Councilman Robert McConnell, Nyhoff said the officer’s name had not been released by Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams but instead “leaked out.”
“Our department requested those who had the information not to put it out until the chief was comfortable our officer was safe,” Nyhoff wrote his email addressed to McConnell, Williams, then-Mayor Bob Sampayan, and then-interim Vallejo City Attorney Randy Risner. “The chief will issue a statement naming the officer when he deems it appropriate.”
Nyhoff never references Tonn by name in his email. However, the initial email from a member of the public, criticizing the account of the shooting from the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association (VPOA), does name Tonn. That email, which does not mention any other officer’s name, was then forwarded to Nyhoff by McConnell seeking a response from the city manager.
Nyhoff’s response is dated from June 7 – two days after the Vallejo Times-Herald newspaper and Bay Area News Group officially named Tonn as the shooter.
Monterrosa was shot once in the neck at about 12:30 a.m. on June 2 outside the Vallejo Walgreens store on Redwood Street. Tonn and two other officers were responding to a report of looting at the store, when Tonn, seated in the backseat of an unmarked police vehicle, fired five rounds from his AR-15 assault rifle through the windshield as the vehicle approached the Walgreens.
Monterrosa died a short time later.
Vallejo police have said that Tonn mistook a 15-inch hammer tucked into Monterrosa’s sweatshirt as the butt of a handgun. Prior to the shooting, Vallejo police Capt. Lee Horton can be heard over the radio stating that Monterrosa is armed, before correcting himself to say that the 22-year-old San Francisco man might be armed.
Horton was responding to reports of looting when his vehicle was rammed by a fleeing group.
In the same email, Nyhoff disputes the narrative that Monterrosa was on his knees, with his hands above his head, when he was shot by Tonn. Vallejo’s police chief has previously said that Monterrosa dropped to a kneeling position, and placed his hands above his waist revealing the end of the hammer.
The union claimed that as officers arrived on scene Monterrosa “chose to engage the responding officers.”
“Mr. Monterrosa abruptly pivoted back around toward the officers, crouched into a tactical shooting position, and grabbed an object in his waistband that appeared to be the butt of a handgun. At no time did Mr. Monterrosa make any movements consistent with surrendering,” VPOA claimed. “Fearing that Mr. Monterrosa was about to open fire on the officers in the vehicle, the officer was forced to fire multiple rounds through his windshield. The officer used deadly force as a last resort because he had no other reasonable option to prevent getting shot.”
Body camera footage from the incident doesn’t conclusively show what happened that night. Surveillance cameras on the Walgreens were destroyed in the days leading up to the shooting. In addition, Horton was not wearing his body camera at the time of the shooting.
More than 10 months after the shooting, the names of the three officers have yet to be officially released to the public. The police union filed a temporary restraining order in Solano County Superior Court blocking the release of the names, almost two weeks after the shooting. That case is still pending.
The police union said in the days following the shooting the officer and his children had received multiple death threats.
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