Huge rally held for Santa Rosa teen killed by deputy


Typically the police don't release information about an officer-involved shooting like this one. But the Santa Rosa Police Department, which is investigating the Sonoma County Sheriff's deputy, says it's trying to be as transparent as possible.

The demonstration started at Sebastapol Rd. and ended at Courthouse Square.

"I have teenager kids and it hurts me," demonstrator Cynthia Martinez said. "This is something very painful for me and for everybody."

Demonstrators are vilifying Gelhaus after police released new details about the way he shot and killed the teen.

"We believe that the time period between the time the deputy told his dispatcher what his observations were and the time he advised on the radio that shots were fired was 10 seconds," Lt. Paul Henry said.

To that, demonstrator Jeanine Flaton says, "I just cannot understand how this happened in such a short short time. Ten seconds and the boy is murdered."

Gelhaus and a deputy-in-training spotted Lopez carrying an air-soft rifle that looks like an AK-47.

"The Deputy Gelhaus, who was in the passenger's seat, was able to exit the vehicle much more quickly because he didn't have to operate the vehicle," Lt. Henry said. "And then began to engage the subject with his commands to drop the weapons. He yelled at the subject two times to drop the weapon. The subject did not do that. Instead, he began to turn to face the deputies."

That's when Gelhaus says the muzzle of Lopez's gun was pointed at him so he fired eight shots, striking the teen seven times.

"The deputy's statement was that he wasn't sure if he identified himself or not," Lt. Henry said.

"I mean, it seems like he's lying about what he actually did," demonstrator Eric Gregory said.

Police say identifying before shooting is not a requirement.

The demonstrators are asking for a fair investigation, which is why police released this information about the investigation, saying they want to be transparent to the community.

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.