The first Vallejo police officer fired for killing a civilian in the department’s modern history — who was later reinstated — will not face criminal charges over the shooting, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Tuesday.
In a 31-page report, Bonta found insufficient evidence to charge Det. Jarrett Tonn in the June 2020 killing of Sean Monterrosa outside a Vallejo Walgreens on a chaotic night one week after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis.
Tonn was part of a team responding to reports of a burglary at the store. He fired five rounds from an M4 Colt Commando rifle from the backseat of an unmarked Ford F-150, striking Monterrosa once in the back of the head, according to records obtained in connection with a public records lawsuit filed by this newsroom. The detective, who had been in three prior shootings, told investigators that he mistook a hammer in the 22-year-old’s sweatshirt for a gun.
Lee Merrit, an attorney for the Monterrosa family, was not immediately available for comment.
In a statement, Bonta said his office is committed to preventing “these kinds of incidents” in the future.
“Sean Monterrosa’s life mattered and there is nothing that can make up for his death,” the statement read. The attorney general pointed to a lawsuit and stipulated judgment, filed in Solano Superior Court in October, that seeks to impose reforms on the Vallejo Police Department. The move followed three years of relative inaction by the local agency, which entered into a collaborative reform agreement with Bonta’s predecessor Xavier Becerra, who had developed concerns over the “number and nature” of shootings by Vallejo police.
“In the criminal review process, DOJ conducted an extensive review of all available evidence,” the statement continued, noting that investigators reviewed dispatch records, 911 recordings, surveillance video, and other materials.
But some evidence was no longer available, having been destroyed shortly after the killing.
In July 2020, the city of Vallejo announced that officers disposed of the windshield through which Tonn shot Monterrosa, prompting Becerra to launch a criminal investigation. The DOJ announced Tuesday that the investigation found officers did not act with criminal intent to suppress evidence and will not face charges.
Vallejo police also seized a civilian drone on the night of the Monterrosa shooting, which captured the killing in its entirety. The device bypassed department evidence-handling protocols before making its way to the office of then-Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams, where it remained for several hours. When the chief gave the drone to a detective shortly after 4 a.m., the video file had been overwritten with zeros, according to reports by Vallejo police and a forensics expert with the United States Secret Service.
Spokespeople for the Vallejo Police Department and the cleared officers were not immediately available for comment.
Bonta announced that he would take up the homicide investigation into Monterrosa’s killing in May of 2021. The previous summer, Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams announced that she would not investigate the shooting, citing a “perceived conflict” and “a lack of public trust from some community members.” She did not respond to a request for comment.