Police Investigation Into Andy Lopez Shooting Sent To DA
SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — The Santa Rosa Police Department has completed its investigation of the Oct. 22 shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus.
Lt. Paul Henry said the results of the investigation conducted in conjunction with the Petaluma Police Department have been sent to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch acknowledged the receipt of the report late this afternoon at the same time Santa Rosa police announced the investigation was completed.
“It is time for my staff to begin the process of thoroughly reviewing and considering all the facts and circumstances within the context of the guiding legal principles,” Ravitch said in a news release.
Ravitch said her office will determine whether or not violations of criminal law are believed to have occurred, and if any individuals who are believed to have violated criminal law should be prosecuted.
She also said her office will provide a summary and recommendation to the Sonoma County Grand Jury and present the grand jury with investigative information upon request.
“It is not the role of the District Attorney to evaluate a law enforcement agency’s tactical policies or consider civil, legal or liability issues,” Ravitch said.
Ravitch said she has assigned a senior attorney and senior investigator to thoroughly review the shooting.
“Our office may determine that further investigation or evidence gathering is necessary,” Ravitch said. “If justice demands that additional investigation be done, we will not hesitate to do so regardless of the time it may take.
“I understand that the public is aware that the protocol sets a guideline of 90 days from the receipt of the report for the District Attorney’s determination. I caution the public to remember that this timeline is not a legal requirement, but a recommendation,” Ravitch said.
Ravitch is running for re-election in the June primary against Deputy District Attorney Victoria Shanahan.
Lopez was carrying an airsoft BB rifle that resembled an AK-47 rifle while he was walking on Moorland Avenue near West Robles Avenue on Oct. 22.
Gelhaus, 48, who was in a sheriff’s patrol car with another as-yet-unidentified deputy, told Santa Rosa police he thought the rifle was real and ordered Lopez to drop it.
Gelhaus fired eight shots, seven of which struck Lopez, who died at the scene. According to Santa Rosa police, Gelhaus said he thought his and the other deputy’s life were in danger when the barrel of the rifle rose as Lopez turned toward him.
There have been at least 10 protest marches since the fatal shooting, and Lopez’s family has filed a civil rights violation and wrongful death complaint in federal court against the sheriff’s office and Sonoma County.
The complaint in part alleges the county negligently allowed Gelhaus to have contact with the public when it knew he suffered from vision problems and that the 24-year veteran had used excessive force and unjustifiably drew and misfired his firearm in the past.
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