SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) – Santa Rosa’s City Council Tuesday afternoon will hear public comments on the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy in October.
Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot Lopez seven times at Moorland and West Robles avenues the afternoon of Oct. 22 after he mistook a BB gun Lopez was carrying for an AK-47 assault rifle.
While there have been several opportunities for public comment at Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meetings since the shooting, Tuesday will be the first time the public is invited to address the Santa Rosa City Council on the incident and its aftermath.
The shooting happened in an unincorporated area just outside Santa Rosa’s southwestern city limits. City Attorney Caroline Fowler and City Manager Kathy Millison initially advised the City Council not to discuss the shooting because Santa Rosa police were investigating it.
That advice became controversial, and at a meeting on Nov. 6, City Council members finally spoke publicly about the shooting.
A Dec. 10 City Council meeting was suspended when protesters, angry that the 48-year-old Gelhaus had returned to work after a paid leave of absence, disrupted the meeting.
Tuesday’s public comment period will likely occur sometime after 4 p.m. when Millison presents a report titled “Review of Actions to Address Community Tragedy and Path to Healing.”
“In the aftermath of the community tragedy involving the death of Andy Lopez, there have been a number of actions taken to develop a path toward community healing,” Millison said in her preface to the report.
“City staff will review the community outreach and support offered to youth and families and the City participation in the County Task Force on community and local law enforcement,” Millison said.
The 21-member task force, which had its first meeting Monday night, will consider law enforcement oversight and citizens’ review board options. Its final recommendations are due at the end of the year.
Millison said her report will provide information to the council and the public and both will have the opportunity to comment on it.
The City Council will meet in closed session at 2:15 p.m., City Clerk Terri Griffin said. The public meeting was expected to start around 3 p.m. in council chambers at 100 Santa Rosa Ave.
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