SANTA ROSA (KCBS)— A crowd of over 100 protesters gathered at the courthouse in Downtown Santa Rosa Monday afternoon to make demands regarding last year’s fatal shooting by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy of 13-year-old Andy Lopez.
The public’s outcry continues over the boy’s October 22nd shooting by veteran sheriff’s deputy, Erick Gelhaus, 48. The demonstrators demanded that Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch release an investigative report conducted by Santa Rosa Police that was completed last month.
Protesters marching back towards the downtown courthouse from a vigil held at the Santa Rosa Police Department, confronted about a dozen or so police officers dressed and armed in riot gear. There were no initial reports of any physical altercations.
Gelhaus had stopped the teen for carrying what he said he thought was an assault weapon. The weapon in question ended up being a plastic airsoft BB rifle that resembled an AK-47.
After the incident, three separate investigations were launched. The Santa Rosa Police Department’s was the first to be released to the District Attorney. Ravitch has still not said whether or not she will release the information.
One demonstrator, Ramon Castro, said another District Attorney, Victoria Shanahan, who is trying to fight for Ravitch’s re-election campaign, has made it known to the public that if she were to be elected as the lead D.A., that she would recuse herself from the investigation.
In addition, the group of protesters wants the State Attorney General Kamala Harris to intervene and to take over the case. One organizer said that would serve as an attempt to remove some of the conflict of interest the local case may be experiencing.
“We feel that D.A. Jill Ravitch has too much of a vested interest in the performance of the Sonoma Co. Sheriff’s Department and because of that, it would be an outright conflict of interest. We feel that the right thing to do would be to turn over all evidence and all the positions and investigative reports to Kamala Harris,” Castro said.
Protestors planned to march around downtown and are carrying signs and handing out flyers. Meanwhile, Lopez’ family has since filed a federal lawsuit claiming the teenaged victim was denied his civil rights.
The march is expected to return to Old Courthouse Square, where more speeches are to be heard.