A protest has been called for 1:00 P.M., tomorrow Saturday, Aug. 16th in light of the announcement that Deputy Sheriff Erick Gelhaus, 13-year-old Andy Lopez’ killer, will be returned to patrol duty. The protest will take place in front of the Sheriff’s Dept. at 2796 Ventura Ave. in Santa Rosa.
In the wake of the murder of Michael Brown by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, many in the United States are finally becoming aware of the extent of police brutality. But residents of Sonoma County, where sixty-four people have died in encounters with police and deputies or while in their custody since 2000, have long been aware of the militarization of the mindset of law enforcement.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch decided not to pursue charges against Gelhaus after releasing the results of an investigation designed, from the start, to exonerate Gelhaus. The investigation, which cost the county $63,000 above staff payroll, failed to ask very basic questions and relied on the work of William Lewinski, director of the Force Science Institute. “He’s the guy police departments go to when they are forced to defend an indefensible shooting,” says Oakland defense attorney, Michael Haddad, “Lewinski will find a way to exonerate the officer.”
Returning Gelhaus, who “feared for his life” when faced with a 13-year-old with a toy gun, to the streets is a reckless and disrespectful act on the part of the Sheriff’s Dept. Residents of Sonoma County will express their displeasure tomorrow.