Bay Area police officers were involved in three shooting incidents on Monday and Tuesday. Photo By Pixabay Pexels “Legal Simplicity” License
Against the backdrop of protests against police brutality in the killing of George Floyd, officers in Bay Area communities shot three people in two nights this week, raising further questions about use of excessive force by law enforcement. In one of the shootings, a 22-year-old San Francisco man was killed early Tuesday morning by an officer who fired through the windshield of his own car, according to a report by Melanie Woodrow of KGO TV News.
Police shootings also took place in Hayward and San Jose, though neither resulted in fatalities. In the Hayward incident, police shot a 17-year-old African-American youth, who was then arrested on looting-related charges outside a CVS pharmacy.
The victim’s mother, Jael Barnes, told Mercury News reporter Peter Hegarty that her son was not involved in looting. Barnes said the Weston Ranch High School student was in Hayward to take part in the filming of a video, and was sleeping in his car at about 4 a.m. Monday, but was awakened by noise outside and tried to drive away.
Police, according to Hegarty’s report, shot at the vehicle, considering it a weapon.
“I feel like all they saw was a black face and just believed he did (a crime),” Barnes told the Merc reporter. "Not only does he now have these physical wounds," Barnes said, "he has these mental wounds, as well, which will never go away."
She said that she plans legal action against the city of Hayward, where police have now shot three people since May 20.
In Vallejo early Tuesday morning, an officer reportedly fired five times at 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa, killing him as he appeared to flee from a Walgreens where looting was taking place, according to the KGO report. Monterrosa had stopped running and dropped to his knees with his hands raised when he was shot, according to the report.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said that the officer spotted what turned out to be the head of a hammer in Monterrosa’s waistband, mistook it for a gun, and opened fire from inside the police cruiser, according to a Times-Herald report by Nate Gartrell and John Glidden.
Williams would not name the officer, according to the Times-Herald report, nor would he reveal if the officer had ever fired his weapon on duty previously. Though an internal investigation into the shooting is underway, Williams declined to offer an opinion on whether the shooting was a use of excessive force.
According to a GoFundMe page set up to cover Monterrosa’s funeral expenses and his family’s legal costs, the family has retained Oakland-based civil rights lawyer John Burris—who is perhaps best known as the attorney who represented Los Angeles police beating victim Rodney King in a civil lawsuit.
Though the officers who beat King in 1991, seen in a widely distributed video, were acquitted of charges—setting off protests and rioting in Los Angeles and other cities—Burris won a $3.8 million judgment for King in his civil case against the LAPD.
In the third Bay Area officer-involved shooting this week, San Jose police shot an injured 23-year-old Yuridia Ochoa, who led them on a brief car chase Tuesday night after she struck a pedestrian with her vehicle while doing donuts near San Jose City Hall, according to a report by Stephanie Sierra of KGO TV.
Ochoa was backing her vehicle toward a dismounted motorcycle officer when he shot her at least once, KGO reported. She was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The pedestrian she allegedly struck was also hospitalized with injuries that are believed not to be life-threatening.