source: The Press Democrat
published: 1 June 2018
It was an October afternoon when 13-year-old Andy Lopez, wearing shorts and a blue sweatshirt, walked down a sidewalk in southwest Santa Rosa, loosely carrying at his side a plastic pellet gun that resembled an assault rifle.
Two Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies were driving in the neighborhood on a routine patrol. When Officer Erick Gelhaus, an Iraq war veteran, spotted the 5-foot-3 teenager, he thought the boy might be carrying an AK-47.
Their patrol car swung behind Lopez. From 60 feet away, Gelhaus jumped out, crouched behind the door and shouted “Drop the gun!”
As Lopez began to turn toward him, Gelhaus fired eight shots, killing the boy.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to shield the deputy from being sued by Lopez’s parents on the grounds that no law “squarely governs” this situation and would have alerted the officer that shooting the teenager on the sidewalk amounted to the use of “excessive force.”
Joined by several California law enforcement groups, Sonoma County’s lawyers are urging the justices to “support the common sense proposition that officers need not wait for a gun to actually be leveled or pointed at them before responding with deadly force to protect themselves and the public.”