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Deputy who shot boy carrying replica rifle not charged; protests held

Demonstrations planned after Sonoma County DA declines to charge deputy who killed boy carrying toy gun

Demonstrators are expected to come out in force for a second consecutive day Tuesday after Sonoma County prosecutors announced that a sheriff’s deputy wouldn't face charges for fatally shooting a teenage boy who was carrying a replica assault rifle.

Andy Lopez, 13, was shot seven times by a sheriff’s deputy in October 2013 when he was seen carrying a  replica AK-47 BB gun and turned toward the deputy and his partner as they were ordering him to drop it, according to multiple media reports.

Sonoma County Dist. Atty. Jill Ravitch said Monday that Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot the boy as a response to what "he honestly and reasonably believed was an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to himself or others.

“It is incumbent upon us to move forward to address the many layers of concern uncovered by this tragedy, and work together to rebuild trust and support for all members of this community," Ravitch said in a statement released after the decision to not charge Gelhaus was announced.

Following the Ravitch's announcement, dozens marched through the streets of Santa Rosa chanting “No Justice! No Peace!” reported KTVU.

"He was a kid, he was shot because he was kid carrying a toy gun where kids play. That is an injustice that cannot be permitted,” demonstrator Jonathan Melrod told the station.

Lopez's family later issued a statement, saying relatives were left feeling "as though Andy had been killed again today."

"This cowardly political decision sends the tacit message that law enforcement officials who use excessive force in Sonoma County will not suffer meaningful consequences and, instead, will enjoy immunity from local prosecution," the family wrote in the statement published by NBC Bay Area.

Demonstrators announced on Facebook that they planned to protest in front of Ravitch’s office at 1 p.m. Tuesday. A third protest is scheduled for the weekend.

Gelhaus told police he could not remember whether he identified himself as a sheriff's deputy, but a witness said the deputy twice ordered Lopez to drop the gun. A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Lopez's parents in November said Gelhaus did not identify himself and ordered Lopez to drop the gun only once.

Police said Gelhaus fired eight rounds.

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