Official campaign coalition website, associated directly with Andy's family [JusticeCoalitionForAndyLopez.com]* California Attorney General Office stonewalls Justice for Andy Lopez! 2014-02-13 [link]
* Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez begins "Spring Justice Offensive" with legal actions! 2014-02-06 [link]
* “JCAL Blasts DA Ravitch and the SR Police Department’s Total Lack of Transparency in Deputy Gelhaus Shooting Investigation” [link]
* Amended Federal Complaint vs. Sonoma County and Deputy Sheriff Erick Gelhaus [link]
* Mothers in White, and a Founding Member of the Black Panther Party, Protests the Killing of Andy Lopez by Sonoma County at Board of Supervisors meeting, 2013-01-07 [link]
* "Andy Lopez Memorial Torched: Community will Rebuild", 2014-01-02 [link]
* Andy's Youth demand Justice in Santa Rosa! [link]
* "Community Objects to Sonoma County Deputy Gellhaus Return to Duty" [link]
* Justice for Andy Lopez on Human Rights Day! [link]
* "Santa Rosa, Calif. 80 youth march surrounded by 26 cop cars; Community demands justice for Andy Lopez!" [link]
* Nov. 26th, 2013, March for Justice and Human Rights in Santa Rosa! [link]
Solidarity against the repression of a community in Santa Rosa! [link]
* Free Ramon Cairo! [link]
* Free David Douglass! [link]
"Re: Police shooting of Andy Lopez"
2013-11-02 letter by John Sakowicz of Ukiah to the "Mendocino Country Independent Newspaper":
I have researched an "Intelius Background Check" on Sonoma County deputy, Erick Gelhaus, who shot 13-year old Andy Lopez seven times, killing him, on October 22, 2013. Gelhaus was deliberate. He fired eight times in 26 seconds. That's a lot of time in the split-second world of law enforcement. Trigger-happy? You decide. The kid was holding a toy replica of a gun. The FBI is now investigating the shooting, because neither the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office nor the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office can be trusted my many members of the public to conduct an impartial investigation. The family of Andy Lopez and much of the local Latino community have cried out for justice. If guilty, Erick Gelhaus should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As a law enforcement officer sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, this is a greater demand for justice put upon Erick Gelhaus than for ordinary citizens. Adding the facts that Gelhaus was also a SWAT team member and wrote for SWAT Magazine, was also training instructor at the Gunsite Academy in Sonoma County, and that he demonstrated products for Aimpoint Red Dot Sights, Blue Force Gear, and other vendors of the deadly tools of the trade for law enforcement, there may no excuse for this killing. Gelhaus was not just an ordinary citizen, he was not just an ordinary cop...he was a lot more. He should have known better.
No Justice. No Peace.
"Letters sent today to the US Civil Rights Commission re: death of Andy Lopez"
2013-11-08, The following letter with background articles is being sent today by US Postal Service to both the Western Regional Director, Dr. Peter Minarik of the US Civil Rights Commission in Los Angeles as well as Michael Yaki, of San Francisco, a Commissioner of that body. It is signed by sixteen local groups as a community response to the October 22 killing of Andy Lopez by Sonoma County Sheriff Deputy Erick Gilhous.
WE ASK FOR THE RETURN OF THE US CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION TO SONOMA COUNTY TO HOLD HEARINGS
We write to you today as a coalition of human rights and social justice groups in Sonoma County where the tragic death of a thirteen year old child has galvanized and outraged our community. The October 22 shooting death of Andy Lopez by Sonoma County deputy Sheriff Erick Gelhaus has resulted in near daily protests and vigils over the past two weeks with no end in sight. We are writing to request that you return to Sonoma County to hold all day hearings as you did in February of 1998. You came here then as a result of a serious spate of law enforcement related civilian killings in the mid 1990s.
You issued a comprehensive report in May of 2000 with several recommendations including setting up civilian review boards. Unfortunately all law enforcement agencies in Sonoma County ignored those recommendations claiming that all concerns could be solved through a Grand Jury approach. Since 2000 there have been 56 more civilian deaths at the hands of local law enforcement, including 16 year old Jeremiah Chass and 30 year old Richard DeSantis, both in 2007 which resulted in a similar outcry from our community. Several of those unnecessary deaths resulted in private lawsuits and ended in settlements costly to our county and taxpayers.
We are now united in our condemnation of this most recent unnecessary killing of Andy Lopez on October 22 and believe it shows an unfortunate and continuing pattern over the past two decades that urgently needs outside intervention and oversight. Please let us know what we can do to start the process for the Commission to return to Sonoma County for official hearings.
* Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County
* Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline (PACH)
* Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County
* Round Valley Indians for Justice
* 100 Thousand Poets for Change
* Missing Pages Productions
* Bohemian Grove Action Network
* Apple Roots Group
* North Coast Coalition for Palestine
* Sonoma County Peace and Freedom Party
* Coalition for Grassroots Progress: Sonoma County
* Latino Democratic Club of Sonoma County
* National Lawyers Guild: San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
* Val Barber—mother of Jesse Hamilton, killed by law enforcement 2008
* Emory Douglas Black Panther Party Artist
* Northbay Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS)
"Andy Lopez Shooting: Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit to be Filed"
2013-11-04 press release from the Law Office of Arnoldo Casillas, Esq. [323-725-0917] [Acasillas@morenolawoffices.com]:
Date: Monday, November 4, 2013 Time: 1:00 p.m.
Location: 44 Montgomery Street
Market Conference Room, Lower Level San Francisco, CA 94104
The parents of 13-year-old Andy Lopez will sue Erick Gelhaus and Sonoma County for killing their son.
The federal civil rights lawsuit will be filed on Monday, November 4, 2013, at the Federal District Court in San Francisco.
The lawsuit will allege that the shooting of Andy Lopez was unconstitutional in that it violated the Fourth Amendment’s limits on police authority. The lawsuit will detail the circumstances of the shooting and allege that defendant Erick Gelhaus shot and killed Andy Lopez without reasonable cause, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The complaint will also allege that the shooting resulted from an unconstitutional custom and practice at the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department regarding the use of deadly force.
Andy’s parents and their lawyer will hold a press conference on Monday, November 4, 2013, to discuss the findings of their investigation, the results of their private autopsy, and the details of Andy’s short life. The family will have an electronic media package available to those attending the press conference. Andy Lopez’s parents will be present at the press conference.
Justice for Andy shirt!
This shirt is sold to raise money for the family. When you see this shirt and Aztlan Industries, know that all the money is being donated to the family. It's all for Andy. (donations were received by Family of Andy Lopez, Nov 12th, after the last shirt was sold by Aztlan Industries).
"Andy Lopez developments: Monday and Tuesday"
For Immediate Release: November 3, 2013
Contact: Michael Rothenberg 305 753 4569
1) IMPORTANT PRESS CONFERENCE, The Lopez Family Lawyers- MONDAY NOVEMBER 4 : SAN FRANCISCO FRIENDS PLEASE GO TO: 44 Montgomery St., San Francisco, CA, Market Conferennce Room, Lower Level at 1pm. The lawyers for Andy Lopez Family will make a very important statement!!
2) On Tuesday Nov. 5th we will be marching to demand that Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch convene a Grand Jury for the purpose of indicting Deputy Sheriff Erick Gelhaus for the wanton murder of our 13-year old brother and friend Andy Lopez. Today we have sent an official written request to the DA demanding a meeting with DA Ravitch for Nov. 5 at 2:30 to present our Declaration of Indictment. We will let you know if we hear back from the DA. DA Ravitch do your job - indict Gelhaus for "criminal matters"
TAKE NOTE: On November 5, 2010, Johannes Mehserle, who shot and killed Oscar Grant, was sentenced to two years, minus time served. He served his time in the Los Angeles County Jail, occupying a private cell away from other prisoners. He was released on June 13, 2011. He only served 9 months. We must make sure this time around JUSTICE is SERVED! November 5th we march for Andy Lopez, we march for Oscar Grant, we march for Ernest Duenez Jr.!!!
Poster attached in Spanish and English gives Tuesday action specifics. Please contact Michael Rothenberg, email@example.com or call 305-753-4569 for more information
"Joint statement to bring US Civil Rights Commission back to Sonoma County"
Limited copies of the 2000 report from the US COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS of their 1998 Hearings in Sonoma County are available by request. For more info contact Mary Moore [707-874-2248] [firstname.lastname@example.org]
October 30, 2013, Joint Statement from Sonoma County Human Rights and Social Justice groups to ask the US Civil Rights Commission to return to our community in the aftermath of the killing of Andy Lopez.
"We are a coalition of Sonoma County human rights and social justice groups who have come together to suggest that the US Civil Right Commission revisit Sonoma County in light of the recent killing of thirteen-year old Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County Sheriff Deputy on October 22. In 1998 the California Advisory Committee of the Commission came to Sonoma County for an all day hearing regarding a spate of questionable civilian killings in the 1990s and in 2000 issued a very comprehensive report which sided with the community concerns.
Since the 1998 hearings there have been way too many preventable civilian deaths at the hands of local law enforcement, including 16 year old Jeremiah Chass and 30 year old Richard DeSantis, both in 2007. Several of those unnecessary deaths resulted in private lawsuits and ended in settlements costly to our county and taxpayers. We are now united in our condemnation of this most recent unnecessary killing by local law enforcement and believe it shows an unfortunate pattern over the past two decades that needs outside intervention and oversight.
In this latest killing of Andy Lopez the FBI has quickly stepped up to conduct its own investigation but given it's history regarding social justice issues we would like another set of "outside" eyes to go along with this. We will soon be approaching the US Civil Rights Commission with this request. If your group would like to join us please email email@example.com to add your name."
* Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County
* Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline (PACH)
* Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County
* Round Valley Indians for Justice
* 100 Thousand Poets for Change
* Missing Pages Productions
* Bohemian Grove Action Network
* Apple Roots Group
* North Coast Coalition for Palestine
* Sonoma County Peace and Freedom Party
* Northbay MDS
* Val Barber—mother of Jesse Hamilton, killed by law enforcement 2008
"Continuing vigils, marches, and activism around the killing of Andy Lopez by Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputies"
2013-10-26 from the "Sonoma County Peace and Justice Center"
The Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County is attempting to be a hub of information for ongoing activism regarding the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies. The most up-to-date information can be found on our Facebook page [facebook.com/PJCSonoma] If you know of anything we aren't posting, please post it to that page and we will share it. Thank you for your help in reducing gun culture and police shoot-to-kill policies. We will also be working on citizen oversight of law enforcement. Thank you.
Want to know how you can be part of the solution?
March for Andy Lopez!
Tuesday, The march will be on October 29th and will have 2 meeting places. At 12pm, people can either meet at The Old Court House Square or Santa Rosa Junior College. Those that choose to go to the Court House will begin marching to the SRJC at 1 pm. Those that choose to protest at the SRJC will meet at 12 and rally while they await the arrival of those marching from the Old Court House Square. Once the two parties are united, we will all march toward the Sheriffs Department. There, we will have another protest with both parties and those who can join at the Sheriffs department around 3pm.......
Santa Rosa Junior College(12pm): 1501 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, Ca, 95401
Old Courthouse Square (12pm): Old Courthouse Square Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Sheriffs Department (3pm): 2796 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Justice Now! Unity March for Andy Lopez!
Wednesday, Meet at the Dollar Tree parking lot on Sebastopol Ave. in Roseland at 5:00 p.m.
We'll march to Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, planning to arrive by 6:30 p.m.
Candlelight vigil and speakers in Old Courthouse Square at 6:30 p.m.
Unity March from Roseland to Courthouse Square for a peaceful demonstration and afternoon rally with speakers (TBA). At sundown there will be a silent vigil and return walk to Roseland. This event hopes to bring together the diverse communities of Santa Rosa for a massive demonstration of unity against police brutality, gun violence, and racial profiling in our neighborhoods and a call for justice in the brutal slaying of Andy Lopez. Together we can create change and make Santa Rosa a safe and just home for ALL of our children. This march and vigil will be a continuation and culmination of the many protests, actions, demonstrations taking place around Santa Rosa. We will continue until there is justice for Andy Lopez!
"A CHILD IS DEAD"
2013-10-23 statement from Elbert “Big Man” Howard, co-founder for PACH Police Accountability Clinic & Helpline of Sonoma County:
My name is Elbert “Big Man” Howard, and I am a founding member of The Black Panther Party and also of PACH, the Police Accountability Clinic & Helpline of Sonoma County. PACH, an all-volunteer organization, was formed to take reports of police misconduct after community meetings which occurred because of a series of killings which took place in 2007. I am making this statement on behalf of myself and PACH and in response and protest to the killing of Andy Lopez, 13 years of age, by law enforcement.
One of the reasons that the Black Panther Party was formed in 1966, and why they fought so hard many years ago, was to have community control of the police – to make the policeaccountable to the community. In the present atmosphere that still exists of racial profiling and police abuse, the politicians and law enforcement agencies are accountable to no one.
Now, 47 years later, here I am, waking up to the news that yesterday, Oct 22nd, on the very day we recognize as the National day of protest against police brutality, this 13 year-old child has been shot down and killed by Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies.
Clearly, police misconduct remains an on-going issue in our community as the civil and human rights of people in our communities are ignored and violated. We all need to protest the police abuse, racial profiling, and the killings by law enforcement that continue to occur in our community.
Law enforcement, in this county, is a system against the people. The treatment of people at the hands of law enforcement remains an ongoing issue, and instead of improving, has clearly worsened. The fact that this child has been gunned down is just one example of an entire unjust system.
Details of these deaths in the past and present are always "not for public record". The so-called details take weeks to be obtained. We, as community members, demand an accounting of this shooting. We want to know why this child is dead.
In order to protest the police abuse and racial profiling that continues to thrive in our community, we need to take action in various ways.
One of these ways is that we need to cease supporting, as taxpayers, the funding of laws, law enforcement agencies, and criminal penalties that do not work and violate our civil, constitutional, and human rights.
Some of you may remember, back in May of 2000, the US Commission on Civil Rights, after investigating charges of police misconduct in Sonoma County, recommended that there should be an office formed, independent of the District Attorney’s, to both investigate and prosecute cases of police abuse. It never happened.Why? Was it due to a lack of community political will?
Are we to continue to ignore the injustices in our community? Are we to continue to support laws that erode our basic human and civil rights? We must form alliances within our community in order to deal with this issue of misconduct by law enforcement. We must do it now before someone else's child lies dead at the age of 13.
"Exclusive: More Corruption in Sonoma Law Enforcement"
2013-12-03 by Jan Tucker [http://janbtucker.com/blog/2013/12/03/exclusive-more-corruption-in-sonoma-law-enforcement/]:
Detective’s Diary has been keeping watch on the aftermath of the death of 13 year old Andy Lopez in the outskirts of Santa Rosa October 22 of this year. Andy was gunned down by sheriff deputy Erick William Gelhaus within seconds after Gelhaus saw the middle school student walking along Moorland Avenue with a bb gun. Our friend and colleague, Private Investigator Alex Salazar, has been working on the case for the Lopez family’s attorneys (one of whom is, like Jan B. Tucker, a 1970s era CSU Northridge Mechista).
The killing is being “investigated” by the Santa Rosa Police Department while many activists, community residents, and outraged citizens are calling upon the District Attorney Jill Ravitch to bring criminal charges against the law enforcement officer, a highly trained weapons instructor.
A public records search of campaign filings was made of the incumbent Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas who is seeking another term next year by longtime Peace & Freedom Party activist and Detective’s Diary reporter Irv Sutley. The Freitas financial documents show that the sheriff (whose employee, Deputy Gelhaus is under investigation by the SRPD) has as his campaign committee treasurer one Ernesto Olivares. Mr. Olivares is not only a former high ranking officer of the Santa Rosa Police Department and now a current Santa Rosa city council member but was also formerly city mayor. The Freitas-Olivares connection ordinarily might not have attracted much comment other than being just another example of the old boys network among county law enforcement.
That is until Sutley while going through the Freitas for sheriff campaign documents came across the committee’s physical address: 415 Steele Lane, Santa Rosa, California. This location is property owned by the City of Santa Rosa and is the headquarters of the Recreation, Parks, & Community Service programs of the City of Santa Rosa.
Sutley, a Peace and Freedom Party organizer since February 1967 who served as State Chair from 1970-72, says the filings clearly show that council member Olivares is breaking the law and misusing city assets and city property in furtherance of his personal management of the campaign on behalf of the county sheriff: “No candidate or campaign committee has the right to misappropriate public property or public monies while pursuing their political ambitions. There needs to be an investigation of Ernesto Olivares in this matter. Did the sheriff know and when did he know? The city attorney, the district attorney, the state Attorney General and possibly federal agencies need to look into these Olivares misdeeds in the Steve Freitas campaign. A corrupt individual relationship like this in electoral matters may indicate that there can not be justice for Andy Lopez when these same individuals are and have been part and parcel of ‘investigating’ each other’s ‘good shootings’ which are always held to be justified.”
"Deputy who shot boy with BB gun IDd as gun expert"
2013-10-28 by Henry K. Lee [http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Deputy-who-shot-boy-with-toy-gun-ID-d-as-gun-4933421.php]:
Tonia Coleman hangs clothing printed with Andy Lopez Cruz's image while Fernando Alducin (center), Cristian Sev, Marisol Hernandez and Carlos Sev wait outside Andy's viewing service in Windsor. Photo: Raphael Kluzniok, The Chronicle
This combination of photos provided by the family via The Press Democrat and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department shows an undated photo of 13-year-old Andy Lopez and the replica assault rifle he was holding when he was shot and killed by two Sonoma County deputies in Santa Rosa, Calif. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. Photo: Family Via The Press Democrat, Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, AP
In this photo taken Wednesday Oct. 23, 2013, pictures and written messages mark where 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot and killed by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy Tuesday in Santa Rosa, Calif. Ten seconds elapsed between the time sheriff's deputies spotted a Northern California 13-year-old walking with what would turn out to be a replica assault rifle and their report that they had shot the teen, according to police. In that time, they put on the emergency lights of their patrol car, got out of the vehicle and took cover behind a passenger door and issued warnings to the teen to drop the weapon before one of them opened fire, police said. Photo: Conner Jay, AP
In this photo taken Tuesday Oct. 22, 2013, law enforcement investigators cover the body of a 13-year-old boy shot and killed by officers in Santa Rosa, Calif. Two California sheriff's deputies saw the boy walking with what appeared to be a high-powered weapon Tuesday, sheriff's Lt. Dennis O'Leary said. The replica gun resembled an AK-47, according to a photograph released by the sheriff's office. Deputies learned after the shooting that it wasn't an actual firearm, according to O'Leary. The teen was pronounced dead at the scene. The deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard after a shooting, O'Leary said. Photo: Conner Jay, AP
The Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who killed a 13-year-old boy after mistaking his toy AK-47 for a real rifle was identified Monday as a firearms instructor, hunter and war veteran who in the past has warned other officers that they may need to use lethal force to survive an encounter.
Deputy Erick Gelhaus, 48, had broad experience with guns - even relative to others in his profession - before he fatally shot Andy Lopez Cruz last Tuesday just outside Santa Rosa, an incident that has prompted community outrage.
Gelhaus is a frequent contributor to law enforcement magazines and online forums in which he promotes officer safety. He served as an infantry squad leader in Iraq, according to his online profiles, and he describes himself as an avid hunter in North America as well as Africa.
He once accidentally shot himself in the leg in 1995 while on duty with the Sheriff's Office - reportedly while holstering a gun. However, officials said he has not fired upon a suspect in 24 years with the agency, where he serves as a field training officer for new recruits and trains colleagues to shoot at the department's gun range.
Gelhaus pondered such a possibility in a 2008 article for S.W.A.T., a monthly magazine that focuses on policing, weaponry and gun rights.
"Today is the day you may need to kill someone in order to go home," he wrote. "If you cannot turn on the 'mean gene' for yourself, who will? If you find yourself in an ambush, in the kill zone, you need to turn on that mean gene."
He added, "Taking some kind of action - any kind of action - is critical. If you shut down (physically, psychologically, or both) and stay in the kill zone, bad things will happen to you. You must take some kind of action."
Medal of valor -
Gelhaus received the sheriff's medal of valor in 2004 for rescuing people from a burning car. Records show he served in the Army from 1983 to 1987, the Army Reserve from 1987 to 1995, and the Army National Guard of California from 2003 to 2010. He served in Iraq in 2005.
Sonoma County Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas, who, along with Gelhaus, was part of a gang investigations team in the 1990s, said Monday of the deputy's online postings, "His opinions are his opinions."
Gelhaus is a "respected and solid employee," Duenas said. He said the office did not release the deputy's name earlier out of concern for his safety, after becoming aware of threats.
An attorney for Gelhaus has declined to comment. The deputy is on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure, pending investigations by Santa Rosa and Petaluma police and the Sonoma County district attorney's office.
According to Santa Rosa police officials, the shooting happened after Gelhaus and a newly hired deputy he was training pulled up behind Andy. They had seen him walking near his home west of Highway 101 with what appeared to be an assault rifle, officials said, but was actually a plastic BB gun that Andy used to play games with friends.
Gelhaus got out of the vehicle and ordered the boy to drop the gun, which did not have an orange tip - a feature that toy guns must have under federal law. When he didn't drop the gun and turned toward the deputies, Gelhaus fired eight times, fearing for his life, officials said.
The FBI has also launched an independent inquiry to determine whether any federal civil rights violations occurred in the case, said agency spokesman Peter Lee, who declined to elaborate.
Duenas said sheriff's officials welcomed the FBI's involvement in the case, "since there has been discussion and questions regarding an independent review." He said his office would fully cooperate and was glad to have "another set of eyes on this tragic event."
District Attorney Jill Ravitch, meanwhile, urged the public over the weekend to be patient, saying that although the community "wears a shroud of grief" over Andy's killing, her office's investigation would take time.
'Time needed' -
She said she would be unable to release piecemeal accounts of what happened.
"In order for the process to succeed, I ask that we be given the time needed for a deliberate, step-by-step investigation to occur," Ravitch said. "I know we all seek the truth about what occurred on Oct. 22, and there is no one more committed to determining the facts than me."
Andy's family and friends have railed against the Sheriff's Office, saying Gelhaus should have known that the boy was carrying a fake rifle. There have been several protest marches and rallies since his killing, and another is scheduled for noon Tuesday.
At a march Friday, some protesters carried fake guns, and "at least one person displayed the weapon to passing citizens," Santa Rosa police said, adding that officers "were forced to respond to address the situation that created unnecessary risks for all involved."
"Driver says Sonoma deputy pulled gun on him"
2013-11-01 by Henry K. Lee from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Driver-says-Sonoma-deputy-pulled-gun-on-him-4944495.php]:
The Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who shot and killed a 13-year-old boy after mistaking his toy AK-47 for a real rifle pulled a gun on a motorist twice during a traffic stop on Highway 101 about two months earlier, the driver said Thursday.
Jeff Westbrook of Santa Rosa said he was mistreated by Deputy Erick Gelhaus after being pulled over Aug. 21 in Cotati for failing to signal a lane change in his BMW. The interaction troubled Westbrook so much that he recalled asking Gelhaus at one point, "Sir, is there something wrong with you?"
"I felt like I was watching somebody I needed to help," said Westbrook, 57, a program manager at an information technology company. "This was not right. He did not manage this correctly."
Gelhaus is on routine paid leave after the Oct. 22 shooting of eighth-grader Andy Lopez Cruz, who was walking with a replica AK-47 pellet gun near his home just outside Santa Rosa. His attorney declined Thursday to comment on Westbrook's allegations.
Gelhaus, who joined the sheriff's office 24 years ago, is a gun expert - an Iraq War veteran and hunter who serves as a field training officer and weapons instructor.
He told investigators he shot Andy because he thought the pellet gun was real and because he felt threatened when the boy turned toward him.
But Andy's friends and relatives believe the deputy overreacted and did not give the boy a chance to put the gun down.
Westbrook said he had hoped to meet with Gelhaus last week to clear the air about what happened during the traffic stop.
He said he had already discussed the incident with Gelhaus' supervisor, telling the sergeant he had concerns about the deputy's "emotional stability."
But a day after Andy was killed, Westbrook received an e-mail from Gelhaus' supervisor saying the deputy would be out of the office "due to unforeseen circumstances."
"Now I find out a child is involved. I am such an irrelevant part of this thing," Westbrook said. "I am devastated. I'm terribly shocked. I'm appalled."
Westbrook said he is now wondering whether he should have pressed his complaints.
"I'm struggling with that now," Westbrook said. "I'm wondering, if I had fought this a little more aggressively - actually waved around like a chimpanzee with my arms in the air to the district attorney's office and come down there physically - that maybe something could have changed. I don't know."
Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas said Thursday that he could not discuss Westbrook's traffic stop because it was a personnel issue and part of an internal investigation.
Westbrook said he and a colleague were traveling south on Highway 101 near Highway 116 when Gelhaus pulled them over and then approached the BMW on the passenger side.
There wasn't much room on the side of the highway, Westbrook said, so he rolled down his window and offered to move the car. That's when Gelhaus pulled a gun on him and yelled at him to turn the car off, Westbrook said. He said he responded that the car was already off.
According to Westbrook, Gelhaus returned to his cruiser to write a ticket. Several minutes later, the driver said, Gelhaus asked him to walk back to his cruiser and then pulled a gun on him a second time, asking him if he had any weapons before frisking him.
Westbrook said he finally asked the deputy why he had pulled him over, with Gelhaus referring to an illegal lane change. Westbrook said that's when he asked the deputy if he was OK. Gelhaus didn't answer, he said.
"Deputy who shot Santa Rosa boy identified"
2013-10-28 by Brett Wilkinson & Derek Moore from "The Press Democrat" [http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20131028/articles/310281004?title=Deputy-who-shot-Santa-Rosa-boy-ID'd#page=0]: Staff writers Julie Johnson, Randi Rossmann and Paul Payne and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
The Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who fired the shots that killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez last week is a firearms expert, Iraq War veteran and prolific contributor to magazines and online forums dealing with guns and police use of force.
The Sheriff's Office confirmed Sunday that Deputy Erick Gelhaus, 48, fired the shots. A 24-year veteran of the office, Gelhaus has been a frequent advocate in his writing for a prepared, aggressive stance in law enforcement, a profession he has described as a "calling" and likened to a "contact sport."
In a 2008 article he wrote for S.W.A.T. Magazine about strategies for surviving an ambush in the "kill zone," Gelhaus began by describing the "nanoseconds (that) seem like minutes as you scramble to react while simultaneously thinking about your children and spouse."
Sheriff's officials had previously declined to release the deputy's name, citing threats to his safety.
Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Dueñas said the office was still dealing with those threats and would, if necessary, take measures to protect Gelhaus. He said the decision to confirm the deputy's name was based on an awareness that it was starting to circulate publicly.
Gelhaus joined the Sheriff's Office in 1989 and is one of its two dozen field training officers -- a group in charge of training newly hired and newly minted deputies -- in addition to being a firearms instructor and range master with special training in firearms safety and instruction.
He has testified in court as an expert on gangs and narcotics, according to a colleague. In 2004, he was awarded the office's Medal of Valor for pulling occupants of a burning vehicle to safety.
Dueñas on Sunday described Gelhaus as a "solid employee" and proven instructor among the office's 275 deputies and roughly 250 correctional officers.
Gelhaus "has a lot of credibility in the department," said a ranking Sheriff's Office veteran, noting his years in the military and experience vetting new employees. Like others interviewed last week, he would speak only on condition of anonymity because the Sheriff's Office command staff asked employees not to talk to the media about the investigation.
On Tuesday, Gelhaus was with a deputy he had supervised for a month, a new hire with 11 years of experience. Just after 3:14 p.m., they drove up behind Lopez about a half-mile north of the boy's Moorland Avenue home on the southwestern outskirts of Santa Rosa.
Ten seconds later, after the deputies had reported a suspicious person to dispatchers, radioed for backup and issued orders to the boy to drop his weapon, according to Santa Rosa police, Gelhaus opened fire when he saw Lopez -- his back to the deputies -- begin to turn toward him, the barrel of the BB gun rising.
The deputy mistook the BB gun for an assault rifle, investigators said.
Gelhaus fired eight rounds, striking the boy seven times, investigators said. Two shots were fatal, an autopsy determined.
His partner, the trainee, did not fire his weapon, investigators said. Gelhaus and the other deputy were placed on paid administrative leave.
Gelhaus has not returned repeated calls for comment.
Asked about how he is coping, Dueñas said Gelhaus is "doing as best as can be expected."
Sheriff's officials have declined to name the second deputy, citing his partial role as a "witness" in the incident and saying they did not want to interfere with the local investigation being led by Santa Rosa police.
The FBI also is looking into the shooting.
Gelhaus' involvement caused ripples as word leaked out last week among the sheriff's sworn personnel.
"Him of all people . . . that was my first thought," said another ranking sheriff's deputy. "He's a range master; he's respected; he's a go-to guy."
He noted the challenge of distinguishing in a moment's flash a BB gun -- described by police as a "replica AK-47 assault-style rifle" -- with the real thing.
Sheriff Steve Freitas did not respond to requests for comment Sunday.
Gelhaus' decision to fire at Lopez has sparked intense criticism of law enforcement and touched off a debate about whether the deputy was right to feel threatened and fire his weapon.
"We don't know the reason why they killed him; they should know if a gun is real," said Katia Ontiveros, 18, one of hundreds of local residents who joined protests and vigils last week in the shooting's aftermath.
But Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina, said officers are typically justified in the use of deadly force when they sincerely believe lives are at stake.
If the teen was raising the barrel of the gun toward officers, they had little choice about firing, Alpert told the Associated Press.
"If it's a pink bubble-gum gun and an obvious fake to most, then there is no reason to shoot," he said. "But if the gun looks real, the barrel is being pointed at you . . . it's unfortunate, but a perceived threat trumps age, and the officers have to protect themselves."
Aside from those assigned to substations, sheriff's deputies generally do not have specific beats. Gelhaus, nevertheless, would have been familiar with the area of southwest Santa Rosa where he was on patrol Tuesday, Dueñas said.
"Most deputies are," he said.
The area has had an uneasy relationship with law enforcement and long been confronted by a high concentration of assaults and gang and drug activity, according to Dueñas, who grew up in the neighborhood and went to the same schools as Lopez.
He touched only in general terms on how the area's past might have affected the deputies' actions in their encounter with the boy.
"For any situation, you're going to take into it the totality of what you know," plus information you gather, he said. It would be oversimplifying to say: "We go into any given neighborhood and say 'This is a bad neigbhorhood.' "
Dueñas did not have access Sunday to records detailing the level of Sheriff's Office patrol in the neighborhood, statistics on crime or answers about whether deputies had been in the area in the days before the shooting.
Dueñas said Gelhaus has served as a training officer since 2007. The role includes instruction in a wide range of operations, including arrest procedures, citizen contacts and office policies. It requires years of experience, good judgment and careful evaluation of co-workers, Dueñas said.
"They're good deputies. They're good performers," he said, speaking of the group.
He said he was not aware of any office policy that would have prohibited the trainee from firing his weapon. As to why he didn't and Gelhaus did, "Santa Rosa police will be looking into that," he said.
Gelhaus' role as a firearms instructor dates back to at least 1995. In an accident that made the news that year, he shot himself in the leg with his service handgun while holstering the gun to frisk a teen for weapons.
Aside from that incident, Gelhaus has not been involved in a shooting while working with the Sheriff's Office, Dueñas said.
His military career spans roughly 10 years, according to Sheriff's Office records, and includes service in the Army and National Guard.
An online profile posted on LinkedIn states that Gelhaus served as a non-commissioned officer with the Army National Guard from 2004 to 2010. While serving in Iraq, he reportedly supervised a heavy weapons squad and testified in court trials of insurgents.
He also is an adjunct instructor, according to his LinkedIn profile, for Gunsite Academy, an Arizona company that teaches markmanship, gun-handling and other skills to military personnel, law enforcement and "free citizens of the U.S."
In his writing, he cuts an usually high profile, with a voluminous number of online posts and magazine articles. They shed some light on his worldview and outlook on law enforcement.
He wrote for S.W.A.T. in 2008 that among the things he tells his trainees early on is that "Today is the day you may need to kill someone in order to go home."
"If you cannot turn on the 'Mean Gene' for yourself, who will?" he wrote. "If you find yourself in an ambush, in the kill zone, you need to turn on that mean gene."
Dueñas, asked to provide some law enforcement context that would explain the comments, said "the statement is just saying that today is the day you may have to engage and fight for your life."
"From an officer perspective, the reality is you could be making a traffic stop and walk back to the car and have someone shoot at you," Dueñas said.
As a prolific poster and moderator on The Firing Line, an online forum for gun enthusiasts hosted by S.W.A.T, Gelhaus, using his real name, offers his opinions on everything from weapons and technology, law enforcement and military tactics, and what it's like to work as a sheriff's deputy.
Gelhaus' participation in the forum was confirmed Friday by Denny Hansen, S.W.A.T.'s editor-in-chief.
In one revealing thread, forum members debated whether the use of force is justified if someone brandishes or fires a BB gun at another person.
Gelhaus chimed in, writing that "It's going to come down to YOUR ability to articulate to law enforcement and very likely the Court that you were in fear of death or serious bodily injury.
"I think we keep coming back to this, articulation -- your ability to explain why -- will be quite significant," Gelhaus wrote.
A jury in 2002 found that Gelhaus and the Sheriff's Office were not liable in a civil lawsuit alleging excessive force in a 1997 incident against two minors, Karla and Israel Salazar. The pair were walking on Kenton Court when an officer approached Israel in the belief he had escaped from police custody, according to court records submitted by attorneys representing the minors.
Israel muttered, "f------ pigs," prompting a fight that drew a crowd of up to 75 onlookers and other officers, including Gelhaus, who struck the boy in the leg with a flashlight, records show.
Criminal charges of resisting arrest were later dropped. But the family sued in Sonoma County civil court, alleging the minors' rights were violated..
In another online post, Gelhaus described his tenure as a deputy as a time of "the good, bad, terrible & indifferent," and advised one person asking for career advice to consider the potential of having to face the "very rare" situation of "having to take a life so that you survive and go home to yours."
"The time to make that decision is now, not at 1 a.m. in a muddy ditch or garbage-filled parking lot," Gelhaus wrote.
"Boy with toy rifle had 7 bullet wounds"
2013-10-24 by Henry K. Lee and Kurtis Alexander from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Boy-with-toy-rifle-had-7-bullet-wounds-4924334.php]:
The 13-year-old boy who was killed by police while carrying a toy assault rifle near his home outside Santa Rosa was struck seven times by bullets fired by a 24-year veteran of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, authorities said Thursday.
An autopsy by the county coroner on eighth-grader Andy Lopez Cruz found that two of the wounds were fatal, one in the right side of his chest and the second in his right hip, said Lt. Paul Henry of the Santa Rosa Police Department, one of the agencies investigating Tuesday's shooting.
Andy was also shot in his right wrist, left biceps, right forearm, right buttocks and right hip, Henry said. He said the deputy, who has not been identified, fired a total of eight rounds. He did not say how many of those bullets hit the boy; it's possible one or more of the bullets could have caused multiple wounds.
About 3 p.m. Tuesday, the deputy and a rookie deputy he was training spotted Andy walking on Moorland Avenue just west of Highway 101 with what appeared to be an assault rifle in his left hand, authorities said. The rookie deputy, who was driving, pulled behind Andy, who wore a blue hoodie and shorts.
According to the account from Santa Rosa police, both deputies got out of the car and took cover behind open doors. The veteran deputy twice shouted, "Put the gun down," before Andy turned to his right, authorities said.
The veteran deputy reported that he fired after fearing for his life because the rifle barrel was "rising up and turning in his direction," police said. At a news conference, officials displayed the replica rifle Andy carried - an air gun that shot plastic projectiles - alongside a real AK-47, saying the two looked similar.
The rookie deputy, who was hired last month, did not fire any shots, said Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas. That deputy had served 11 years with another police agency, said Duenas, who declined to identify that agency.
The shooting has prompted outrage in Santa Rosa and beyond. Andy's family members and friends have blasted the sheriff's office, saying the deputy who fired overreacted to a situation that did not require deadly force.
On Thursday, a tribute to Andy grew at the site of the shooting. Hundreds of people stopped at the memorial to pay their respects, and many shared concerns about what happened.
One sign in the field where Andy died read, "Wanted for Murder: Sonoma County Sheriff."
"I don't understand. I think if anyone would know what a real gun would look like it would be a police officer," said Elizabeth Cardenas, who used to live next door to Andy's family. "He was a good boy."
Luis Diaz, 13, a close friend of Andy Lopez Cruz, said his best friend should not have been shot. Photo: Kurtis Alexander, The Chronicle