June 4, 2020 | 12:53pm | Updated June 4, 2020 | 2:47pm
A 22-year-old man suspected of looting a pharmacy in California during the national George Floyd protests was shot and killed by a cop who mistook a hammer in his sweatshirt for a handgun, according to reports.
Sean Monterrosa was on his knees outside a Walgreens in the San Franciso Bay Area city of Vallejo on Tuesday when the officer fired five shots at him through his vehicle’s windshield, according to ABC 7.
One of the shots struck the San Francisco resident, who became the first confirmed death at the hands of law enforcement in the state in connection with the looting that followed Floyd’s death while in custody of Minneapolis cops, KTLA reported.
Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said it appeared Monterrosa was about to jump into a getaway vehicle before changing his mind.
“This individual appeared to be running toward the black sedan when he suddenly stopped, taking a kneeling position and placing his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a handgun,” Williams said.
But it was later determined that the suspect had a 15-inch hammer tucked into the pocket of his shirt, the chief said.
“When they responded to the Walgreens, the intent was to stop the looting and to arrest the perpetrators if necessary,” he said, adding that “officers reacted to a perceived threat.”
John Burris, an attorney for the family, said he was appalled that police would open fire on a person who was on his knees with his hands up.
“This young man was shot multiple times while he was on his knees and appeared to be trying to surrender,” Burris said. “But one has to maintain control and you don’t get to arbitrarily shoot someone in a panic, just because the situation is excitable.”
The 18-year veteran who shot Monterrosa has been placed on leave pending the investigation.