22-year-old Sean Monterrosa from San Francisco was fatally shot by police officers who thought he had a gun when he just had a long hammer.
Monterrosa, who was suspected of stealing from a pharmacy, was on his knees and had his hands up when he was shot five times by an officer.
According to reports, the police officer was placed on administrative leave after Monterrosa passed away.
Further details about the incident were revealed as some cities and counties in California planned to end curfews days after peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd.
Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said the police officers were responding to calls when the incident happened.
“The intent was to stop the looting and to arrest any perpetrators if necessary. The officers reacted to a perceived threat,” Williams stated.
“I would say that it’s always a tragedy anytime an officer has to use force. My condolences to his family; it is a difficult thing to happen I understand that.”
The chief also said police saw at least ten people suspected of stealing from the store and one vehicle even bumped into a police car, starting a rough chase.
During that time, Monterrosa was spotted near the building with a weapon. “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 added.
An officer fired multiple times, hitting the 22-year-old once. It was then discovered that Monterrosa had a hammer and not a gun, Williams said.
John Burry, the family’s lawyer, said he is shocked police should shoot someone who was already kneeling down with hands up.
“This young man was shot multiple times while he was on his knees and appeared to be trying to surrender,” Burris expressed. “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 lawyer in Burris’ law firm, Melissa Nold, told KTVU-TV: “This wasn’t a person that was committing murder. This wasn’t a person that should’ve ended up dead on Monday night.
“Until we see the videos, we’re not going to believe anything that [the police] tell us, anyway.”
The police officer who shot the suspected looter is an 18-year-old veteran. He has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
According to Williams, Monterrosa had a criminal history, including an arrest for petty theft and shoplifting.
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