Author Topic: Boy, 13, fatally shot by police holding toy rifle  (Read 775 times)

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Online Rudi Jan

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Boy, 13, fatally shot by police holding toy rifle
« on: October 23, 2013, 04:33:59 PM »
Boy, 13, fatally shot by police holding toy rifle

Published time: October 23, 2013 23:41
source: http://rt.com/usa/boy-13-shot-toy-gun-644/


Reuters / Beck Diefenbach

Two sheriff’s deputies in Northern California shot and killed 13-year-old boy who they thought was carrying an assault rifle, only to find out that the gun the teen was holding was a toy, police and family members have said.

The officers, on patrol Tuesday in Sonoma County, reported seeing the boy carrying what appeared to be a black AK-47, reports the AP. A photo made public after the tragedy show a toy weapon with a black magazine cartridge and brown butt.

Sheriff’s Lieutenant Dennis O’Leary told reporters the deputies called for backup and repeatedly ordered the boy to drop the weapon before they both opened fire with their handguns. It was not clear whether the boy, later identified as Andy Lopez by his father Rodrigo, pointed the weapon at the officers.

Rodrigo Lopez told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat his son had been taking the toy to a friend’s house and also carried a pretend pistol in his waistband. The family said the gun was a “toy” but a police press statement described it as a “replica” Airsoft gun designed to look real while firing small plastic BBs.

 “I told him what I tell him every day,” Mr. Lopez said of the last time he saw his son on Tuesday morning. “Behave yourself.”

Neighbor Brian Zastrow said the incident occurred in the afternoon when students were on the way home from school and many parents had left their jobs. The sudden eruption of gunfire echoed throughout the neighborhood.

“First I heard a single siren and within seconds I heard seven shots go off, sounded like a nail gun, is what I thought it was,” he said. “After that I heard multiple sirens.”

A video of the incident captured by another neighbor reportedly shows the two officers taking cover behind their patrol car with a body visible in the foreground.

The names of the officers involved have not been made public but both have been placed on administrative leave, a routine course of action after a shooting occurs.

Lopez was an eighth-grader at Lawrence Cook Middle School, where he played trumpet in the school band. The community adorned the site where he was shot with candles and other tributes, yet reports made it clear the shocking news had not yet sunk in for the Lopez family or the surrounding area.

“Andy was a very loved student, a very popular, very handsome young man, very smart and capable,” Lawrence Cook assistant principal Linsey Gannon told the Press Democrat newspaper. “Our community has been rocked by his loss.”

Approached by reporters upon returning home from identifying her son, Sujey Annel Cruz Cazarez wept as she was comforted by family and friends.

“Why did they kill him?” she said. “Why?”

RW - Had these psycho cops been around when I was young I would never have made it to age 13... we had whole arsenals of plastic toy guns, plastic helmets and camo clothing. These morons would have called in a helicopter gunship to take us kids out. I suppose when you train in Gaza shooting kids is the norm. There they only have to pick up a rock.
Suspend all belief. Get the facts ~ Rudi
No one rules if no one obeys ~ Lao Tzu

Online Rudi Jan

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Officer who fatally shot 13-year-old holding toy rifle had pulled gun during routine traffic stop

Published time: November 01, 2013 03:57
Edited time: November 01, 2013 05:14
source: http://rt.com/usa/toy-rifle-pulled-gun-traffic-059/


A picture of 13 year-old Andy Lopez sits with gifts and candles at a memorial on October 29, 2013 in Santa Rosa, California.(AFP Photo / Justin Sullivan)

The same police officer who shot and killed a young teen after mistaking a toy gun for a real one pulled his weapon on a motorist during a routine traffic stop on the highway two months ago, the California driver in question now says.

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus is currently on paid administrative leave after fatally shooting 13-year-old Andy Lopez, who was walking to a friend’s house with a replica AK-47. The tragedy has made international headlines and frustrated the local community, with vigils and protests against the police taking place over the past ten days.

Jeff Westbrook, a program manager at an information technology company, now says that Gelhaus was the deputy who pulled him over on his August 21 commute for failing to signal a lane change. Westbrook told the San Francisco Chronicle that there was not much room to pull over on the side of the highway so he rolled down his window and asked Gelhaus if he should move his car to a safer spot.

It was at that point, Westbook said, that Gelhaus pulled a gun on him and began screaming an order for him to turn the car off. Westbrook responded that the car was already off.

“I felt like I was watching somebody I needed to help,” Westbrook said this week. “This was not right. He did not manage this correctly.”

Gelhaus then ordered Westbrook out of his vehicle and pulled a gun on him a second time when asking the commuter whether he had any weapons in the car. Westbrook asked why he had been pulled over and then felt compelled to ask, “Sir, is there something wrong with you?” The police officer did not answer.

Gelhaus’ attorney declined to comment on Westbrook’s accusations. The deputy is an Iraq War veteran who serves as a police field training officer and weapons instructor. A 24-year veteran of the force, he was training a new officer at the time of the shooting.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said Gelahus had not fired his weapon at a suspect in over 20 years. He received the Medal of Valor in 2004 for rescuing passengers from a burning car and pulling them to safety.

Westbrook contacted a superior officer within the Sonoma police force and said he was considering filing an official complaint with the department. He said he informed Gelhaus’ sergeant that he felt the deputy had “emotional stability” problems and hoped to meet with Gelhaus to discuss the traffic stop.

Then, almost two months to the day after the roadside scare, Gelhaus shot Lopez seven times in under ten seconds. The deputy told investigators that he thought the gun the boy was carrying was real – but later found out it was an airsoft gun designed to shoot plastic pellets.

Whether Lopez knew the officer considered him a risk remains unclear. It took 16 seconds for Gelhaus and his partner to call for medical assistance after the shooting in Santa Rosa. Lopez, a popular student preparing to enter high school, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Westbrook received an email the next day indicating that Gelahus would be out of the office “due to unforeseen circumstances,” and thus unable to clear the air. 

“Now I find out that a child is involved. I am such an irrelevant part of this thing,” Westbrook said. “I am devastated. I’m terribly shocked. I’m appalled.” 

A police report filed after the shooting describes how Gelahus opened fire when Lopez had his back turned to the patrol car but appeared to be turning toward the two officers with his gun raised. Lopez’s friends and family, as well as countless demonstrators who have protested over the past week, believe Gelhaus overreacted and doubt that he gave Lopez time to put down the fake weapon.

Witnesses said they heard the deputy instruct Lopez to put the weapon down, but various media outlets quote an anonymous police source who said that Gelhaus’ partner was not even out of the patrol car when the shooting began. Santa Rosa police say Lopez was told twice to put the replica gun down.

Lopez was wearing a sweatshirt with his hood down at the time and did not have any headphones that would have prevented him from hearing a police order.

Meanwhile, Westbrook wonders if Lopez would still be alive if he had filed an official complaint sooner.

“I’m struggling with that now,” he told the Chronicle. “I’m wondering, if I had fought this a little more aggressively – actually waved around like a chimpanzee with my arms in the air to the district attorney’s office and come down there physically – that maybe something could have changed. I don’t know.”

Hundreds of mourners filled the Resurrection Parish Church in Santa Rosa Wednesday to honor Lopez. Many of the parishioners wore white, Lopez’s favorite color, and the boy’s mother laid face down on his casket throughout the service, not moving until the pallbearers escorted Lopez’s body to the waiting hearse.

RW - "Sir, is there something wrong with you?" A question that needs to be asked of many more of these cops as well as their political bosses throughout the country. Of course they will probably answer with bullets.
Suspend all belief. Get the facts ~ Rudi
No one rules if no one obeys ~ Lao Tzu