October 30th, 2013
08:10 AM ET

Community Wants Answers After Teen Holding Fake Rifle Is Killed

Classmates and friends of thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez carried his casket into a Santa Rosa, California, church for his funeral Tuesday. The boy was carrying a fake rifle with he was shot eight times by police and killed earlier this week.

Some in Lopez's community believe the police misjudged killing the young man and hundreds of protestors took to the streets yesterday, CNN's Dan Simon reports.

One man, Ronald Cruz, 41, said, "We're here to say a badge is not a license to kill. We demand that the cops be jailed. We have no confidence in the police or politicians."

Investigators from another police department are still reviewing the case, but thus far seem to be defending the deputy, Eric Gelhaus, a 24 year veteran, saying that he had to quickly act based on the perceived threat.

Complicating matters, the replica, called an airsoft rifle, did not have an orange cap on the end of the barrel, which is required by law to be put on toys.

But protestors say this is the case of an overzealous deputy.

CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Former NYPD Detective Harry Houck about the scenario on "New day" and how the officers describe the action took place within ten seconds.

Houck confirmed that these situations escalate quickly and said, 'You don't have time to think... Your mind is like a computer. All different scenarios are going out in that short ten second period and if you don't react quickly, you might be dead, your partner might be dead, or somebody else on the street might be dead."


What do you think? Leave your thoughts below or on Twitter with #NewDay.

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. jim terwiliger

    Wonder how much police violence Erick Gelhaus will bring down on his department because of his poor choices.

    October 31, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  2. Dixson Thomas

    Within that ten second window, he surely didn't have time to hear the child reply.This is a life that is gone.
    Because of his poor judgment a family lost their son, a grand ma lost her grandson, a sister lost her brother while this man is going home to his family. How do you explain that. How are you going to replace that void that is left, knowing that your son is not coming back, please explain this. We are now in the eleventh month of the year and never before we heard of so many unjustified killing and abuses by the police, mainly of blacks or Hispanic ethnicity.

    October 31, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  3. Jared Hamersley

    This type of LEO shooting of a child holding a BB gun is by no means rare in Northern California (see e.g.,similar incidents involving El Dorado County Sheriff deputies in 2007-2010. The all too often quoted trigger happy rationale reiterated by numerous local LEO's around here "better to be tried by nine than carried by six" is clearly to blame.

    October 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  4. frank

    About not having time to think, etc. - It's BS. Someone that scared should not be out there. They did not assess the situation. He never pointed the gun at the officer, did not even have time to turn around. Both should have had their guns drawn and ready to take him out as need be, but not so fast. More risk? A little, calculated. But hey, if you want no risk at all, just drop a nuke on all of L.A., then you can go home feeling very safe. Just kidding - but to say that there is a spectrum between "no risk" and the right way to behave as a police officer. There is also, obviously, a risk to good citizens. The kid was not prudent, but did not deserve to die. I believe the word is "trigger happy". .

    October 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  5. frank

    Note to reporter - it's not a "cap" that is required at the end of the barrel - just that it be colored orange at the tip.

    October 30, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  6. CR

    I get the perceived threat. But did this trained police officer need to shoot eight times? Could the PO have shot a warning in the air and wait for a response? There would have been no response because the rifle was not real. The kid would be alive today.

    October 30, 2013 at 8:56 am | Reply

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