Marches Planned For Calif. Boy Fatally Shot By Deputy
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
SANTA ROSA, Calif. — Demonstrators are planning to march Tuesday to protest the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy by a California sheriff's deputy.
The protests come a week after Andy Lopez by shot by 48-year-old Erick Gelhaus, a 24-year Sonoma County Sheriff's Office veteran who is a firearms instructor.
The protesters plan to hold rallies at Santa Rosa Junior College and the Old Court House Square before marching to the sheriff's department for an afternoon rally.
The Oct. 22 shooting has already generated numerous protests in Santa Rosa, about 50 miles northwest of San Francisco. On Sunday, more than 1,000 people turned out for a service to remember Lopez.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting an independent investigation into Lopez's death. The Santa Rosa Police Department and Sonoma County District Attorney's office are also investigating.
Sheriff's officials say Gelhaus mistook the pellet gun Lopez was carrying for an assault rifle, and the officer feared he and his partner were going to be shot.
Investigators say the hoodie-wearing teen didn't comply with commands to drop the gun and was turning toward the deputies while raising the barrel when he was shot multiple times.
Spokesman Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas said Gelhaus has been a Sonoma County firearms instructor and rangemaster for 19 years and has trained his law enforcement colleagues in the proper use of force. He is one of 26 such instructors for the county.
He has not only given shooting lessons but also has provided instruction on the proper use of force, Duenas said. He also teaches pistol, carbine, shotgun and rifle lessons for Gunsite, a private company in Arizona, according to the company's website.
Gelhaus is a frequent contributor to SWAT magazine, a monthly firearms publication.
To do that job, "you've got to be good at instructing others," Duenas said, adding: "You have to be able to instruct others on policy and procedures and use-of-force policy issues."
Duenas says the sheriff's office has been dealing with threats against Gelhaus and would take steps to protect him if necessary.
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