Gelhaus Protesters in Santa Rosa Smash Jail Door; One Arrested

A rally Tuesday protested the Deputy Erick Gelhaus, who shot Andy Lopez, returning to work.

By Bay City News

Rowdy protests in Santa Rosa Tuesday against the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy outside in October led to vandalism at the Sonoma County jail and one arrest, the sheriff's office said.

The crowd of about 80 to 100 people gathered outside Santa Rosa City Hall just before 5 p.m. then marched to the jail. A door window of the main jail lobby was broken including by protesters who were young children, ages 4-10, according to the sheriff's office.

The protesters used wooden protest signs and crosses to vandalize the door but left after a dispersal order and marched to the sheriff's main office. They attempted to move police barriers in front of the office but did not break through and then dispersed, the sheriff's office said.

Deputies made one arrest for suspicion of violation of probation and obstructing a police officer. That person was identified by the sheriff's office as Jose Godoy, 24, of Santa Rosa. He was stopped leaving the scene in a vehicle and booked into jail, the sheriff's office said.

Earlier, more than a dozen speakers attended the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday afternoon to protest the return to work Tuesday of the Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who fatally shot 13-year-old Andy Lopez.

Their appearance was part of a Day of Resistance to the Reinstatement of Deputy Erick Gelhaus who was on paid administrative leave since the Oct. 22 shooting on Moorland Avenue in Sonoma County southwest of Santa Rosa. 

Among the speakers were several members of "Women in White." 

"Do you know what Sonoma County Justice means," asked Dara McCuistion of Santa Rosa. "It means you kill a Mexican kid and you get two months paid vacation and your job back."

Gelhaus, 48, a 24-year sheriff's office employee, mistook the airsoft BB gun for an AK-47 assault rifle, according to Santa Rosa police who are investigating the fatal shooting. Lopez was shot seven times. Gelhaus told police the barrel of the gun rose as Lopez turned toward him. 

Gelhaus, who was a firearms instructor and field-training officer, will perform administrative office duties, Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas said.

Elaine Holtz told the board the return of Gelhaus to work was a "slap in the face of the community."

Addressing supervisors Shirlee Zane and Susan Gorin, Holtz said, "I can't handle two women not saying this man should have gone back to work."

Zach Britton, of Santa Rosa, asked the supervisors to place a moratorium on hiring military veterans and anyone who has been fired from other law agencies as sheriff's deputies. Britton said all sheriff's employees trained by Gelhaus should be retrained. 

Nicole Guerro, of Santa Rosa, who presented the board with petitions containing 1,000 signatures demanding the vacant lot where Lopez was killed become Andy Lopez Memorial Park, criticized Supervisor Efren 


"You need to do something about it. You need to be out there more," Guerro said.

The shooting happened in Carrillo's 5th district.

"The community needs it. We demand it," Guerro said.

Guerro told the board the Moorland Avenue residents don't want "just a slide and few swings thrown up." 

The community members want to plant trees, get their hands dirty and build the park themselves so it becomes a place to gather and remember Lopez and all those killed in officer-involved shootings, Guerro said.

The board of supervisors has instructed county staff to report back in February with a plan and financing recommendations to create the park.

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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CI Anderson December 11, 2013 at 08:33 AM
Two more year....and Gelhaus gets his pension...at 50
ed a December 11, 2013 at 12:12 PM
and rightfully deserved..
Longest Family in Electrical in Petaluma December 11, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Our tax dollars going for a Park that was suppose to be built by the developers years ago???????
Rick Dethlefsen December 12, 2013 at 04:08 PM
A Deputy shoots a kid 7 times including a few shots when he is down. Sonoma County law enforement has evolved into a gang of jack booted thugs, and people are rightly outraged. Deputy Gelhaus, do everyone a favor, strap on all your weapons and go to the Golden Gate Bridge and take the plunge


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