Sonoma County deputy who shot boy returning to job

In this photo taken Tuesday Oct. 22, 2013, law enforcement investigators look over the body of a 13-year-old boy shot and killed by officers in Santa Rosa, Calif.  Two California sheriff's deputies saw the boy walking with what appeared to be a high-powered weapon Tuesday, sheriff's Lt. Dennis O'Leary said. The replica gun resembled an AK-47, according to a photograph released by the sheriff's office. Deputies learned after the shooting that it wasn't an actual firearm, according to O'Leary. The teen was pronounced dead at the scene. The deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard after a shooting, O'Leary said. Photo: Conner Jay, Associated PressSF Gate – by Kurtis Alexander

The Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a 13-year-old boy outside Santa Rosa after mistaking the youth’s toy gun for a real rifle was expected to return to work this week, according to a published report.

Erick Gelhaus has been on leave since the Oct. 22 shooting of Andy Lopez Cruz, who was carrying a replica AK-47 pellet gun near his home.  

Gelhaus went through a mental health screening and is returning to desk duty, theSanta Rosa Press Democrat reported. The sheriff’s office did not return calls from The Chronicle seeking comment.

Critics of Gelhaus, outraged that the deputy will be back on the job, are planning to march in protest Tuesday evening. They said the department should wait until outside investigations of the incident by Santa Rosa police and the county district attorney’s office are complete.

“To return Gelhaus to work is such an insult to the community,” said Jonathan Melrod, one of the protest organizers. “Many people view this as salt in the wound because of the nature of what happened, the killing of a child.”

Andy’s family has filed a federal lawsuit alleging civil rights violations.

Santa Rosa police officials said Gelhaus ordered Andy to drop the rifle, which did not have the orange tip that toy guns are required to have under federal law. Andy did not drop the gun, police said, and when he turned toward the officers, Gelhaus fired eight times, fearing for his life.

Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

2 thoughts on “Sonoma County deputy who shot boy returning to job

  1. It’s absolutely amzing how a badge anda gun can cause all of these self proclaimed bad asses to whimper in terror and fear “for their lives”.

  2. This just goes to show how irresponsible the courts are to prosecute a damned LEO. I am kind of glad this pig is back on the force because there will be justice when someone has the balls to do what the courts didn`t ….. I hope someone follows that pig home and takes care of that f`er one way or another…. P.S. Just a thought. Does a cop get a pee/blood test when he is pulled up on something like this or any other questionable behavior just to see if he was useing drugs?

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