Advocates are pleased that California’s new attorney general is Rob Bonta (pictured in 2015), whose legislative efforts in the Assembly have supported criminal justice reform. (Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Advocates are pleased that California’s new attorney general is Rob Bonta (pictured in 2015), whose legislative efforts in the Assembly have supported criminal justice reform. (Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Rob Bonta’s appointment brings our family hope for justice

By Michelle and Ashley Monterrosa

Our brother, Sean Monterrosa, had his life brutally cut short at the hands of the Vallejo Police Department on June 2, 2020 following a protest for George Floyd while on his knees and with his hands in the air. Since losing Sean, our family has been working tirelessly to preserve his legacy and memory, while the powers that be have taken no action in his case.

We are happy to see that last Wednesday, Gov. Newsom did right by people impacted by police violence when he appointed Rob Bonta to the office of California Attorney General. This appointment gives impacted families hope that the attorney general’s office will finally take police violence seriously, prosecute officers who abuse their power and push for decertification for officers who’ve killed unarmed Californians.

While Bonta will not be able to bring back the years we should have had with our brother, our hope is that as attorney general, Bonta will bring our family justice and strive for a better track record of justice and accountability that our former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra failed to deliver.

We are asking Attorney General Bonta to sit down with our family to talk about Sean’s case, appoint a special prosecutor to investigate all officers involved in Sean’s case and investigate the destruction of evidence by the Vallejo Police Department.

Our demands are not unreasonable — in fact, Gov. Newsom himself agreed to meet with us back in November, and former Attorney General Becerra began to investigate the destruction of evidence after enormous pressure. Yet, despite Newsom’s promises and Becerra’s investigation, we again find ourselves hearing nothing but silence.

However, with Bonta’s appointment, we are hopeful that our situation will change. As an Assembly member, Bonta has had a track record of supporting legislation that benefits the victims of state violence, including co-authoring a bill that made victims of police brutality cases eligible for the California Victims’ Compensation Fund — a bill expediting police misconduct records in criminal trials — and voting to decriminalize Black and Brown youth by closing youth prisons in California.

It’s also worth noting, during a period when Asian Americans are experiencing increasing levels of racist violence, that Bonta is the state’s first Asian American attorney general of California, and was the first and only Filipino legislator as well.

We are grateful to all the people who made phone calls, sent emails, tweeted and let Gov. Newsom know how important it was for this appointment to reflect a will to do something about the problem of police violence. We’re also grateful to the grassroots leaders, organizations like The Gathering for Justice and Grassroots Law Project, and other organizations across the state who’ve pushed for a leader like Bonta to be appointed.

Bonta’s appointment brings us newfound hope for justice not only for our brother, but also for the many other families whose loved ones have been killed by the Vallejo Police Department. It’s time that these dangerous police officers are held responsible for the suffering they have caused, for Californians to feel safe once again, and for impacted families to witness the accountability they’ve long been seeking for their loved ones.

Bonta, we have appreciated seeing your dedication time and time again to pursuing justice, and we are looking forward to working with you to ensure the Vallejo Police Department is held accountable for our brother’s death. Sean died after demanding justice for George Floyd, and we will not rest until he has it, too.

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa are the sisters of Sean Monterrosa, who was fatally shot by police in Vallejo in June.

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