The families of two young Latino men, both fatally shot just days apart by law enforcement in the San Francisco Bay Area in June, are demanding justice, including legal consequences for the officers involved.
On Wednesday, the sisters of Sean Monterrosa — a 22-year-old fatally shot by Vallejo police on June 2 — and Erik Salgado — a 23-year-old fatally shot by California Highway Patrol officers in Oakland on June 6 — rallied in Sacramento with other family members of police brutality victims.
On the steps of the state Capitol, activists placed photos of dozens of people killed by law enforcement in California in recent years.
Both families are calling for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to launch an independent investigation into the shootings, according to organizers. And they want the officers involved to be named, fired and charged.
“We are sick and tired of murderers being on the force and still getting paid, yet no convictions,” Michelle Monterrosa said in a video after the rally, provided to HuffPost. She wants police to release footage of the incident and the names of all the officers involved. (While officials have not released the name of the officer who shot Monterrosa, local media reports identified him as Jarrett Tonn.)
“We want justice. We want convictions, too,” said Amanda Majail-Blanco, Salgado’s sister. She also demanded video of the incident and the names of the CHP officers involved, as well as to know whether they’ve been placed on leave or fired. (CHP told HuffPost that all officers involved were still employed, and that “per policy, they were placed on administrative time off after the incident and have now returned to their normal duties.”)
“These are two people that were killed four days apart,” Majail-Blanco said of Salgado and Monterrosa, noting they’re both San Francisco Bay Area residents in their 20s. “They robbed them of their future.”
On the night Monterrosa was killed, Vallejo police officers were responding to reports of looting, according to the police report, when they saw a man (later identified as Monterrosa) outside a Walgreens who “appeared to be armed” and who ran toward a car, then turned to face officers and crouched. Monterrosa, it turned out, was not carrying a gun — he had a hammer in his sweatshirt pocket, according to the report. The officers shot at him five times, killing him.
The officer who fired the shots and the other officers present, who have not been named, were placed on paid administrative leave. None has been fired, arrested or charged.
The Solano County district attorney’s office is conducting an investigation.
Becerra’s office told HuffPost he has “confidence” in the district attorney’s “capabilities to fully and fairly complete the investigation.” The state Department of Justice is also conducting a “comprehensive review of the Vallejo police department’s policing policies and practices.”
In Salgado’s case, the Oakland Police Department, which took over investigating the incident from CHP, said in a June 9 press release that Salgado had been driving a stolen car. When the CHP officers conducted a traffic stop, Salgado allegedly “began ramming” the car into CHP vehicles. Officers shot at the car multiple times, killing Salgado and injuring his girlfriend in the passenger seat. The family’s attorney John Burris told reporters in June that Salgado was shot first, causing his car to ram into officers’ vehicles. The family said his girlfriend was pregnant and miscarried.
Oakland police told HuffPost that its investigators were “not releasing any additional information” at this time. The Alameda County district attorney’s office, which is also investigating the incident, said it could not provide more details on “an ongoing and active investigation.”
Becerra’s office said the attorney general could not comment “on a potential or ongoing investigation.”
“I miss his presence, I miss his warmth, I miss his laugh,” Salgado’s sister Majail-Blanco said Wednesday.
“I miss cooking for him. If only I could make him just one more meal,” Monterrosa’s sister Ashley said, in tears.
The family’s call for justice comes as protests against racism and police brutality continue nationwide, ongoing for more than a month since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“The timing is beautiful. Black and brown coming together in solidarity. Their fight is our fight,” said Majail-Blanco.
“Vuestra lucha es nuestra lucha también,” (Your fight is our fight, too), echoed Michelle Monterrosa. “Don’t wait until one of yours is taken in the hands of police brutality to speak up.”