A protest over the return of a sheriff's deputy who shot and killed a 13-year-old Andy Lopez after mistaking the replica gun he was carrying for a real one stormed Tuesday's Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting. Jodi Hernandez reports.
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.
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.
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.
Earlier, more than a dozen speakers attended the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday afternoon to protest the return to work today 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. He reported back to work this week for desk duty in the armory, but hopes to eventually return to work, according to his attorney, Terry Leoni.
Gelhaus previously was on leave since Oct. 22, the day Lopez was killed.
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 thought the teen was carrying a real AK-47 when he shot him. That gun turned out to be an airsoft BB gun painted to look real.
Leoni said the deputy is still very emotional about what happened, but she believes he'll be cleared of any wrongdoing.
"It's been very difficult for him, emotionally, to see this family, to realize Andy Lopez was 13-years-old," Leoni said. "That doesn't lessen the fact at that moment he was faced with what he believed was an AK-47."
Still, some community members do not buy the deputy's story and want to see Gelhaus behind bars.
"We will stick to this," a tearful Nicole Guerra said. "We don't care how long it takes, justice is going to be served."
Bay City News Service contributed to this report.