The Sonoma County, CA sheriff’s deputy who shot a 13-year-old boy seven times for carrying a plastic BB gun is back on duty:
On October 22, Dep. Erick Gelhaus and a trainee responded to reports of a boy armed with an AK-47 walking along Moorland Avenue in southwest Santa Rosa. Gelhaus drove up behind Middle School student Andy Lopez in a patrol car and ordered him to stop.
When Lopez turned around with the “gun” raised, Gelhaus opened fire, killing the boy after shooting him seven times.
The “AK-47″ turned out to be a plastic airsoft toy gun that fires plastic BB pellets.
The encounter took place in the middle of a bright day and the toy gun had a transparent plastic middle, leading critics to contend that Gelhaus should have been able to ascertain that the toy was not a real AK-47 before opening fire.
The fact that Gelhaus was also a department armorer has prompted charges that he should have been able to identify the toy gun as a replica.
Gelhaus is already back on administrative duty and may return to patrol duty once an investigation of the incident has been concluded.
“He will remain on the desk assignment until District Attorney Jill Ravitch reviews an investigative report and makes a finding about whether he committed criminal wrongdoing,” reports the Press Democrat.
Website PoliceOne.com heralded Gelhaus’ return in a Facebook post which announced, “We’re glad to have you back, officer!”