Community wants DOJ investigation into Andy Lopez shooting

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- The rage over the shooting of a teenager in Santa Rosa last fall has not passed. Activists claim there are too many police shootings and too many victims, including 13-year-old Andy Lopez who was killed while carrying an Airsoft rifle made to look like a real AK-47.

The Andy Lopez Memorial is ever-changing and becoming a community symbol in Santa Rosa. On Tuesday, citizens lodged yet another protest but this time not with their feet and not with their voices. Instead, they're using words, in a letter to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation of Andy's killing and 60 others since the year 2000.

"It means for them to come here and investigate what's going on, to be an oversight when the local officials won't oversee law enforcement themselves," explained attorney Izaak Schwaiger.

On the vacant lot in Santa Rosa where weeds grow taller and the memorial weathers in the hot sun, numbers on the sign count the days. If not for killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by Deputy Eric Gelhaus, Santa Rosa might not have come to this. But it has been eight months since the shooting without a decision by District Attorney Jill Ravetch about whether to press charges.

With every day, the Latino community grows more and more angry. "An officer of the law, an individual who is paid to be a steward of the law, should be held to a higher standard than a civilian. Why? Because we give them the right to take a life," says Brown Berets spokesman Ramon Cairo.

At a press conference in Santa Rosa Tuesday morning, activists questioned the Lopez killing as well as 60 others that have happened since 2000. They say that if local law enforcement won't police themselves, then the federal government must step in for oversight.

"Seven bullets into a 13-year-old child in a span of seconds? He's back at work and it has been eight months with nary a peep from the district attorney's office about what they're going to do. That's a disparate treatment. It means that law enforcement are given every benefit of the doubt when sometimes they shouldn't be," Schwaiger said.

District Attorney Jill Ravetch and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department did not respond to ABC7 News requests for comment.
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