Protesters decry decision to not prosecute deputy in boy's death

Dozens of people gathered in Santa Rosa on Tuesday to publicly condemn the decision to not prosecute a sheriff's deputy who shot and killed a 13-year-old boy who was carrying a replica AK-47 assault rifle.

Prosecutors this week announced that Deputy Erick Gelhaus will not face charges in the death of Andy Lopez, prompting outcry, a protest march and, on Tuesday, a demonstration outside the Sonoma County district attorney's office.

The group of fewer than 100 people, however, was far smaller than in the months after Andy's death Oct. 22.

Jonathan Melrod, an organizer for the Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez, told the Santa Rosa Press Deomcrat that the lower turnout was a result of Dist. Atty. Jill Ravitch taking so long to reach a decision in the controversial case.

"One of the effects of this going on for nine months is to dissipate the energy of the community," he said.

Prosecutors said Andy was carrying a replica AK-47 on Oct. 22, 2013, when he was approached by Gelhaus in response to a call about a suspicious person.

Gelhaus reportedly saw Andy walking in the area with the replica AK-47 at his side and asked him to drop the weapon.

But Andy reportedly turned toward Gelhaus and his partner and began walking toward them.


Fearing for his life, prosecutors said Gelhaus fired at Andy, who was shot seven times, including in the chest and abdomen.

Activists called on public officials to investigate Andy's death, but the latest report from the district attorney's office has only frustrated community members.

Ravitch's office on Monday also released a report that concluded Andy was probably high from marijuana during the deadly encounter.

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