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District Attorney Jill Ravitch releases protocol on officer-involved shooting investigations

  • Law enforcement officials investigate the scene near the corner of Moorland and West Robles avenues on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch on Sunday called for public calm and patience during the investigation into the fatal shooting Tuesday of a middle school student by a sheriff’s deputy.

In a press release from her office, Ravitch released information about the policy that guides investigations into local officer-involved shootings and explained the involvement of her office.

“I know we all seek the truth about what occurred on Oct. 22nd and there is no one more committed to determining the facts than me,” Ravitch said in the statement.

“While the media and the public would like to know each fact as it is determined, that disclosure may hamper the ongoing investigation. As a result, the release of information to the public may not occur as quickly as some would want,” she said.

The comments came five days after Lopez, a 13-year-old eighth grader, was shot and killed at 3:14 p.m. as he walked on a Moorland Avenue sidewalk in southwest Santa Rosa. Investigators said a Sonoma County Sheriff's deputy mistook the BB gun the boy was carrying for an assault rifle.

Santa Rosa police are acting as the lead local investigators under a two-decade-old protocol that hands such investigations over to separate agency.

The District Attorney’s Office is providing oversight and legal assistance. The office has assigned an attorney and an investigator who Ravitch said have decades of experience and have participated in previous investigations of fatal officer-involved incidents.

An advocate from the office also has reached out to the Lopez family, Ravitch said.

A separate investigation has been announced by the FBI.

Numerous details about the shooting remain unanswered, including the names of the deputies, and the type of weapon that was used.

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