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Regional Interests

‘I Know Your Plight’: Family and Supporters of Sean Monterrosa Demand Justice One Year After Pol

Hundreds of supporters gathered in front of San Francisco’s City Hall Sunday in an ongoing push for justice for Sean Monterrosa, a 22-year-old from the city who was fatally shot just over a year ago by Vallejo police during a night of protests and unrest in the days after the murder of George Floyd.

Michelle Monterrosa, who with her family helped organize the rally and other events over the weekend in memory of her brother, told the crowd he was devoted to his family, and was passionate about racial justice.

“Sean was a loving son, a middle brother, and was dedicated to making a difference in this world,” she said. “He was a reader, and an athlete. His very last text message to us was to sign a petition to demand justice for George Floyd.”

Michelle, right, and Ashley Monterrosa speak during a rally for their brother held in front of San Francisco City Hall on June 6, 2021, to mark the one-year anniversary of his death. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Michelle and her sister Ashley said they have spent the last year fighting to keep their brother’s memory alive and to prevent him from becoming another forgotten victim of police violence.

“Ultimately, we want justice for Sean,” Ashley Monterrosa said. “And we want that justice to mean that this can’t happen to anyone anywhere else. And best believe we’re pushing to be the last family affected by the Vallejo Police Department.”

She also advocated for the passage of Senate Bill 2, introduced late last year, which would bar officers convicted of serious misconduct from being rehired by other departments or agencies.

During Sunday’s rally at City Hall in San Francisco, Giulia Pessano Zulberti tapes down photos of people killed by police officers in California. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Monterrosa was kneeling on the ground in a Walgreens parking lot in Vallejo on June 2, 2020, when an officer fired at him through the windshield of an unmarked pickup truck. Police were responding to reports of a break-in at the store, and said they thought Monterossa was armed with a gun. A hammer was later found in his pocket.

Monterrosa’s family afterward found out that Jarrett Tonn, the officer who shot him, had been involved in three other shooting incidents since 2015.

Despite mounting public pressure last year, Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams and Xavier Becerra, then California’s attorney general, both declined to review the shooting.

In May, however, newly appointed Attorney General Rob Bonta announced his office would conduct a review of the incident, a move the Monterrosa sisters called an important first step.

Addie Kitchen, the grandmother of Steven Taylor, who was killed by police last year at a San Leandro Walmart, raises her fists in solidarity during Sunday’s rally. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

At Sunday’s rally, photographs of hundreds of faces of people who died at the hands of police, many in the Bay Area, were laid in front of the stage. Several family members of those killed in high profile incidents — including Mario Woods’ mother and Oscar Grant’s uncle — passionately addressed the crowd, offering Monterrosa’s family both support and solidarity.

“I’m here because of the Monterrosa sisters,” said Addie Kitchen, the grandmother of Steven Taylor, who was shot and killed by a police officer in a San Leandro Walmart in 2020. “Anytime I call them, they show up. And so I am here because they called me,” she said. “We have to be together. We have to become one, because we are one big family. I might not know you, but I know your plight.”

Copyright 2021 KQED