SONOMA COUNTY (CBS SF) — Andy Lopez had marijuana in his blood that might have impaired his judgment and slowed his decision-making at the time the 13-year-old was killed by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy in October, according to the teen’s autopsy results.
Dr. Reese Jones, an expert in the effect of marijuana on the body, said Lopez had last smoked marijuana within 60 to 75 minutes of his death and was likely feeling its effects when he was shot seven times by Deputy Erick Gelhaus at 3:14 p.m. on Oct. 22.
Reese’s opinion on Lopez’s marijuana use was contained in the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office’s 52-page review of the investigation of Lopez’s death that was released Monday.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced Monday that no charges would be filed against Gelhaus because the deputy believed there was an imminent threat of death to him and others.
Gelhaus believed the airsoft BB pellet rifle Lopez was carrying as he walked on Moorland Avenue south of Santa Rosa was an AK-47 rifle.
The district attorney’s office retained Dr. Jones to review the autopsy lab results and compare them to what was known about Lopez’s marijuana use before his death.
The report said a marijuana cigarette and a small bottle of Visine were found in Lopez’s clothes after his death.
Among the effects a 13-year-old boy who had smoked marijuana would have experienced at the time of his encounter with Gelhaus are dysfunctional attention to visual and auditory stimuli, impaired judgment, slowed decision-making and increased mental processing time, Jones said.
Those common consequences of smoking marijuana are likely to be particularly evident when having to deal with the performance of sudden, unanticipated tasks, including decisions that need to be quickly responded to, Jones said.
The cognitive and behavioral impairments are likely to be greater in a young adolescent marijuana user than in a mature adult with years of experience with marijuana, Jones said.
Ravitch’s report said Gelhaus told Lopez once or twice to drop the rifle he was carrying. The report says Gelhaus shot Lopez when the barrel of the rifle rose upward as Lopez turned to his right and that Lopez was facing Gelhaus and Deputy Michael Schemmel at their patrol car when the first shot was fired.
Lopez was hit in the left upper arm, then the left chest and by five more bullets as he started to fall to the ground, according to Ravitch’s report. He died at the scene.
Ravitch’s report also states that Lopez’s 13-year-old male friend, who owned the BB rifle, told a police officer he felt responsible for Lopez’s death.
The boy, referred to in the report as John Doe 2, said he allowed Lopez to borrow the rifle even though the orange tip on the barrel that identifies it as a replica was broken off. The boy said he told Lopez not to take the rifle because it looked real.
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