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Vallejo police chief starts third-party investigation into report officers bent badges to mark kills

Vallejo police chief starts third-party investigation into
report officers bent badges to mark kills 1

VALLEJO — The city’s police chief announced Friday that he is launching an independent investigation into allegations that some Vallejo officers would bend their badges to mark a person they killed in the line of duty.

In a news release Friday afternoon, Vallejo police Chief Shawny Williams said he heard from two people within the police department “that badge-bending has occurred.”

“As a result of these very troubling and disturbing allegations, I’ve asked for an independent outside investigation to be completed by a third party,” Williams said in a written statement.

The announcement comes days after Williams said he was launching an inquiry into the matter, and the he would up the ante if evidence was found suggesting the allegations were true.

Earlier this week, the nonprofit news site Open Vallejo reported that a “secretive clique” existed within the department of officers who’d killed people. Fatal shootings would be celebrated with backyard parties and with a subtle change to the officers’ badges, by bending a point at the 3 or 4 o’clock marks.

Vallejo officers have been involved in nine shootings since January 2017, more than any police force in Contra Costa and Solano counties.

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Williams did not say who would conduct the investigation, but that it would likely take “several months” to complete.

The announcement comes on the heels of a series of controversies involving the Vallejo police department, including a June 2 incident when an officer fired five times through a moving police truck to fatally shoot Sean Monterrosa, a 22-year-old San Francisco resident, outside of the Walgreens on Redwood Street.

The officers — identified by multiple sources as Det. Jarrett Tonn — mistook a hammer in Monterrosa’s sweatshirt for a hammer, police have said. Police have not confirmed Tonn’s identity, and the city’s police union filed for a restraining order in June to keep the city from confirming it.

In mid-July, the Vallejo police union president, Lt. Mike Nichelini, was one of two lieutenants placed on leave while the city investigates the replacement of the truck’s bullet-riddled windshield, which attorneys for Monterrosa’s family contend was an illegal destruction of evidence. Nichelini’s attorney said the windshield has been measured and that he expects both officers to be cleared, but Williams has called for the FBI to investigate the matter.

On Thursday, Solano District Attorney Krishna Abrams announced that she had appointed a special prosecutor, the former San Bernardino DA, to investigate the February 2019 fatal police shooting of Willie McCoy, 20, of Suisun City. McCoy was fired upon 55 times by six Vallejo officers, three of whom bent their badges afterward, according to the Open Vallejo report.

Nichelini told the Vallejo Times-Herald earlier this week that the Open Vallejo report was “inflammatory” and part of a series of lies aimed at smearing the police department.

Abrams has tried to avoid investigating the McCoy and Monterrosa shootings, stating publicly that she doesn’t think she has enough public trust to do so. The city of Vallejo has threatened her with legal action if her office doesn’t take up the Monterrosa matter.

Anyone with information relevant to the badge-bending investigation can call the Vallejo police department’s Office of Internal Affairs at 707- 648-4695.

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