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Police Kill A Latino Man In California, Admit He Didn't Have Gun

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Residents in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Vallejo are demanding body camera footage from a police shooting earlier this week. Today, California's attorney general said his office will begin an expansive review of the city's police department. This is the latest incident in the city, where families of those killed by police have been demanding justice for years, as Ericka Cruz Guevarra from member station KQED reports.

ERICKA CRUZ GUEVARRA, BYLINE: Vallejo police responded to reports of looting at a commercial shopping center during a citywide curfew Tuesday morning. Police say two carloads of potential looters were attempting to flee the scene. That's when officers noticed a 22-year-old Latino man, Sean Monterrosa, from San Francisco. Police say he stopped, took a kneeling position and placed his hands above his waist, revealing what they believed to be a gun. An officer fired five shots from inside his vehicle, killing Monterrosa.

At a press conference, Police Chief Shawny Williams said Monterrosa didn't have a gun after all.

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SHAWNY WILLIAMS: Investigations later revealed that the weapon was a long 15-inch hammer tucked into the pocket of his sweatshirt.

CRUZ GUEVARRA: Monterrosa's killing is the latest in a city whose police shootings don't make national headlines, and calls for police accountability here never reached the level seen in neighboring cities, like Oakland and San Francisco. In this old military town, families of those killed have struggled for years to raise awareness of what they see as a pattern of black and brown men gunned down by police. Among those attending the press conference on Monterrosa's killing was Alicia Saddler, whose brother, Angel Ramos, was shot and killed by Vallejo police in 2017.

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ALICIA SADDLER: Fire him. Not paid leave. Fire him for killing a man that was on his knees.

CRUZ GUEVARRA: Saddler has repeatedly called on the department to hold its officers accountable for deaths like her brother's. She says it's been hard to get locals to organize around police killings in Vallejo. But she sees national protests since the death of George Floyd in Minnesota as a moment of reckoning for Vallejo, too. And between the deaths of Floyd and now Monterrosa, she says things might be shifting.

SADLER: People are caring. Our youth are caring. People of our community and everybody is coming together, and I'm just really glad for that.

CRUZ GUEVARRA: Following Monterrosa's killing, Saddler held a march in Vallejo for both her brother and George Floyd. Roughly a hundred people attended. The protest also marked what would have been her brother's 25th birthday.

For NPR News, I'm Erika Cruz Guevarra in Vallejo.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUDDY RED BOW'S "INDIAN RESERVATION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.