No criminal charges will be filed against Deputy Erik Gelhaus related to the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa on October 22, 2013, District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today.
Gelhaus shot Lopez seven times as the teen, a carrying a pellet gun, walked in a Santa Rosa neighborhood. Gelhaus told investigators he believed the gun was real and opened fire out of fear for his life.
Deputy Gelhaus fired his weapon in response to what he honestly and reasonably believed was an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to himself or others, according to the District Attorney Report to the Grand Jury. As such, the report concludes, Gelhaus was lawfully acting in defense of himself or others, and no basis for seeking criminal charges exists.
A 52-page synopsis of the District Attorney Report to the Grand Jury outlining the investigation and reasons for the determination was released today.
Ravitch said that any finding by her office will not alleviate the pain felt by the Lopez family, those involved in the tragedy, or the community. “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,” she said.
Ravitch said her office conducted an exhaustive and thorough investigation and review, retained numerous expert witnesses, and considered every interpretation of the facts and evidence in our analysis.
“Ultimately, the role of my office in this tragedy is quite limited,” Ravitch said, “to a determination regarding criminal liability.”
Police tactics, training, and civil liability are not matters to be addressed by the DA’s office or its report, Ravitch stated.
“The many areas of concern and positive change that have been discussed in the aftermath of this tragedy will now take center stage in the public dialogue,” she said. “Meanwhile, I intend to make myself available to answer questions the public may have about the scope of our investigation and the basis for my decision not to file criminal charges.