From O’S News Service July 8, 2014

Last October a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy —an Iraq vet named Erick Gelhaus— fired seven rounds into a 13-year-old named Andy Lopez who was walking down a street in Santa Rosa carrying a BB gun, which he was returning to a friend. (Half the kids in Sonoma County probably have BB guns.) An adult male witness said the cop never ordered the kid to stop —he just jumped out of the police car and fired his seven deadly shots while his partner was still getting out.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch on June 7 released a 52-page report exonerating Gelhaus and going into appalling detail about Andy Lopez’s  marijuana use —as if it had something to do with his getting shot in the back! She even spent taxpayer money on an “expert” witness to testify about Lopez’s supposedly likely  “impairment.”  

The account that follows is from a Bay Area television station, KTVU. If you have any doubts about whether we live in a police state, this should put them to rest:

SANTA ROSA, Calif. – 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.

Jones’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.

Andy Lopez's parents

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.


Dr. Reese Jones had a lab at UCSF when I worked there (1987-1999). He was and evidently still is a zealous drug warrior. Who else would provide such irrelevant testimony?   Ed Rosenthal long ago exposed biases in Jones’s research—like he would inject rodents with super-megadoses and deduce things about people who smoked a little herb.

Gelhaus had recently been shooting at brown-skinned youths in Iraq, and here, in a flash, he shoots and kills a brown-skinned kid in Santa Rosa. Seven shots.   

He was just a little boy —an innocent little boy. He wasn’t breaking into somebody’s house, he was returning a bb gun to a friend.

No apology to the family and the community from Sonoma County… No restraint on the killer… They can now kill children on the street in California.

 Denise comments:

I remember when this first happened the cop was identified as a weapons specialist, weapons trainer, and his “courageous” act as a military expert.  He got out of his car firing — the poor kid never had a chance.  So much for the cops’ expertise.

We have militarized our local cops and that is the mentality of many cop — they think they are patrolling battlefields. They have accrued military equipment from the Bush wars with  the mentality to match.

Dale Gieringer comments:

Last night’s TV news also played up the marijuana angle.  What they didn’t mention was Officer Gelhaus’ prior history of gun-happy recklessness, as reported in today’s SF Chronicle:

Two months before Andy’s death, a Santa Rosa resident reported that Gelhaus drew his gun on him after pulling him over for failing to signal a lane change. The traffic stop troubled the driver 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,” Jeff Westbrook, 57, later told The Chronicle.