The California chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both a part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s volunteer networks, today released the following statement after reports that Sean Monterrosa, a 22-year-old man, was shot and killed by a police officer on Tuesday morning while kneeling in front of a Walgreens in Vallejo, Calif. At a Wednesday news conference, Vallejo’s police chief said that the officer had mistaken a hammer in Monterrosa’s pocket for a gun. Reports indicate that the officer who shot Monterrosa has been placed on leave.
“As a mother, Sean Monterrosa’s death breaks my heart –– and as a gun safety advocate, I am outraged,” said Alex Navarro, a volunteer leader with the California chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Sean should be alive today. Police shootings are a part of gun violence in America, and we will continue to work in solidarity with our partners to end gun violence in all its forms.”
“Sean Monterrosa was shot and killed while kneeling in front of a police officer – that is unacceptable,” said Marco Vargas, a member of the Students Demand Action National Advisory Board. “Systemic racism continues to contribute to the death of Black and brown Americans across the country, and it’s past time that we stand together and engage in active anti-racism work. We all –– particularly non-Black and brown people in the United States –– must take a stand against injustice.”
As a whole, gun violence takes a disproportionate toll on Black and brown communities. Black Americans represent the majority of homicide and nonfatal shooting victims in the U.S. and are far more likely than white Americans to be victimized by and exposed to assaultive gun violence.
Black and brown Americans are also far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data from The Guardian shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. Further, according to data from Mapping Police Violence, Black Americans are nearly 3 times more likely than their white peers to be shot and killed by police. From 2013 to 2019, 186 Black Americans and 489 Latino Americans were killed by police in California. On average, 95 percent of police killings involve a gun.
Research finds that meaningful use of force policies reduce police shootings. By encouraging de-escalation,utilizing early intervention systems, and ensuring that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable, use of force policies can ensure that laws help advance safety and promote trust in the police.
In California, Black people are 10 times as likely as white people to die by gun homicide. California also has the 16th highest gun homicide rate among Hispanic residents in the country. Information about gun violence in California is available here.