SAN FRANCISCO — A man suspected of robbing a pharmacy in the San Francisco Bay area was fatally shot by officers who thought a hammer he was carrying in his waistband was a firearm, police said Wednesday.
Details of the shooting were revealed even as some California counties and cities began plans to end curfews after days of largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Sean Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco is the first confirmed death at the hands of law enforcement related to smash-and-grabs and protests in California since Floyd’s death.
Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said officers were responding to calls of looting at a Walgreens early Tuesday when the shooting occurred.
Officers said Monterrosa began running toward a car when he suddenly stopped, got on his knees and placed his hands above his waist, revealing what appeared to be the butt of a firearm in his waistband.
“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 said.
An officer shot five times through a police car window, striking him once.
The object Monterrosa had turned out to be a 15-inch hammer that was tucked into the poclet of his sweatshirt, according to the chief.
“The intent was to stop the looting and arrest any perpetrators if necessary. The officers reacted to a perceived threat,” Williams said.
John Burris, an attorney for the family, said he is appalled police would shoot at a person who was on his knees with his hands raised.
The officer who shot Monterrosa is an 18-year veteran of the force and has been placed on leave pending an investigation.