A Vallejo police officer in jeans and a tactical vest shines a flashlight while standing next to an open car at night.
Vallejo Police Det. Jarrett Tonn shines a flashlight on Kevin DeCarlo after shooting him in unincorporated Martinez, Calif. on May 31, 2017. Tonn and officers Sean Kenney, Kevin Barreto and Jared Jaksch fired their weapons at DeCarlo after he allegedly rammed Kenney’s vehicle with his own. DeCarlo was shot several times but survived. Credit: Vallejo Police Department

The Vallejo police detective fired for killing Sean Monterrosa is getting his job back, Open Vallejo has confirmed.

Det. Jarrett Tonn prevailed in an arbitration hearing over his termination earlier this year, news of which only recently began to circulate, sources with knowledge of the matter told Open Vallejo. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal personnel matters.

“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,” Tonn’s attorney, Joshua Olander told Open Vallejo.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Monterrosa family, did not respond to requests for comment.

In December 2021, then-Police Chief Shawny Williams terminated Tonn for shooting Monterrosa outside a Vallejo Walgreens on June 2, 2020. The detective fired five rounds from a Colt M4 Commando while in the backseat of an unmarked police truck, striking 22-year-old Monterrosa once in the back of the head, records show. Tonn later told investigators that he mistook a hammer in Monterrosa’s sweatshirt pocket for a gun.

Williams allowed Tonn to resume his full duties two weeks later, only to place him on leave in June 2021, following a scathing report from a third-party investigator hired by the city to investigate the shooting. In the meantime, Williams kept Tonn on the department’s Crime Reduction Team and allowed him to continue operating its cell site simulator, a powerful surveillance device the city illegally acquired in 2020.

That delay and other alleged discrepancies ultimately undermined Williams’ credibility during the arbitration hearing, which played a role in the arbitrator’s decision to overturn his firing, sources said.

Williams did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The head of Vallejo’s police union appeared to reference the arbitration award in an email sent to members on Aug. 22 and obtained by Open Vallejo.

“The POA has been working tirelessly, and continuously, to fight for your rights and combat the many illegal and unethical decisions that have been made over the past several years,” wrote Vallejo Police Officers’ Association President Lt. Michael Nichelini, adding that “three (3!) illegal terminations” had recently been overturned.

Williams terminated Nichelini’s employment in April 2021 after the lieutenant sent a menacing email to journalist Otis R. Taylor, Jr., among other alleged misconduct. An arbitrator cleared him of wrongdoing last year. In an unrelated case, Lt. Herman Robinson was also fired in April 2021, for forwarding several work emails to a former colleague; an arbitrator overturned his termination a year later.

Neither Nichelini nor a spokesperson for the city immediately responded to requests for comment. Vallejo police spokesperson Sgt. Rashad Hollis said he would speak with Deputy Chief Joseph Gomez but did not respond as of publication.

Tonn, the only officer known to have been fired for shooting a civilian in Vallejo’s modern history, joined the Vallejo Police Department in 2014. Seven months later, he shot and wounded Gerald Brown following a short car chase. In May 2017, he shot and wounded Kevin DeCarlo; six weeks after that, he fired at Victor Hurtado as Hurtado was running away, but missed. Like Monterrosa, no firearm was recovered from any of the men.

The timing of Tonn’s return to work is not yet known.

Geoffrey King is the executive editor of Open Vallejo. Prior to founding Open Vallejo, Geoffrey worked as an attorney and journalist focused on free expression, open government, press freedom and privacy. He is a proud native of Vallejo, California.