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California attorney general will examine killing by Vallejo police

Attorney General Rob Bonta on Thursday repeatedly criticized Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams for not conducting her own review.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this April 23, 2021, file photo, California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks in Sacramento, Calif. California's new attorney general on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, promised more action on hate crimes, saying there is "a state of crisis" because of increases in attacks on Asian Americans since the coronavirus entered the U.S. after originating in China. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool, File)

VALLEJO, Calif. — California’s new attorney general will review the fatal shooting of a Vallejo man who police say they initially thought was carrying a handgun in his waistband but actually had a hammer. 

Attorney General Rob Bonta on Thursday repeatedly criticized Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams for not conducting her own review. He says she was fully capable of reviewing last year’s death of 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa by the Vallejo Police Department but chose not to do so. Abrams said the case needed an independent review to restore public trust. Monterrosa was suspected of stealing from a pharmacy amid national protests.

“Without accountability, there is no justice,” Attorney General Bonta said in a press release. “It’s past time Sean Monterrosa’s family, the community, and the people of Vallejo get some answers. They deserve to know where the case stands.”

District Attorney Abrams released a statement Thursday afternoon criticizing Bonta's decision saying that the Attorney General is "playing politics with one of the most critical and divisive issues in our communities today." She would later go on to write that she is beyond disappointed and people cannot trust Bonta's statements. 

Abrams claims she spoke with Bonta Thursday morning about a newly implemented Major Crimes Task Force and volunteered to work with the Attorney General's office in regards to AB-1506. 

Under AB-1506, the Attorney General is required to investigate deadly shootings that involve police officers and unarmed civilians. 

"We then spoke about the review of the officer-involved shooting of Sean Monterrosa that occurred on June 2, 2020, in the city of Vallejo, and whether the Attorney General was going to review the case in light of the passage of Assembly Bill 1506," explained Abrams in a statement. "Mr. Bonta stated that his department would not be reviewing the case due to funding not being available until July 1st."

Abrams said within an hour of their conversation, Bonta completely reversed his decision and notified the district attorney that his department would be reviewing the case. 

Civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing the Monterrosa family in a wrongful death suit said in a statement he's thankful Bonta is taking over the review of Monterrosa. 

"The Vallejo police command staff knew or should have known that this was Tonn’s fourth shooting in five years and by failing to discipline officers for misconduct, Vallejo’s police command staff essentially ratified the bad conduct," Burris said in his statement.

Abrams feels the idea that Solano County failed to do its job by "not reviewing the matter" is a misrepresentation and could not be further from the truth. She says the Attorney General's office is the one who failed to act.

"Despite [the] DOJ’s decision to oversee the Vallejo Police Department, [the] DOJ’s decision to review an evidentiary portion of the Monterrosa case and the newly implemented law giving authority to the AG to review these officer-involved shootings, the AG’s Office has failed to act over the past year and has failed to listen to the will of the People," Abrams said.

Abrams says she is concerned that Attorney General Bonta has been on the job for less than a month and would criticize the district attorney's office for wanting a fair, independent and unbiased investigation.

"What creates distrust in our communities is allowing politics to interfere with critical decisions that affect our community," Abrams said.


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