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Sonoma County D.A.: No criminal charges for sheriff's deputy in fatal shooting of Andy Lopez (w/video)

  • Sonoma County D.A. Jill Ravitch held a press conference at the Permit and Resources Management Department in response to the Andy Lopez decision Monday, July 7, 2014. (KENT PORTER/ PD)

No criminal charges will be filed against a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who shot and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez last year as the boy walked down the street carrying an airsoft BB gun that resembled an AK-47 rifle, District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced Monday.

Calling the Oct. 22 shooting and community upheaval that has followed a “painful, painful chapter in the history of Sonoma County,” Ravitch said her office found that Deputy Erick Gelhaus acted within the law when he shot Lopez.

“While this was absolutely a tragedy, it was not a criminal act,” Ravitch said.

Andy Lopez Shooting Decision

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In announcing her decision, Ravitch released a 52-page summary of her findings that includes several new details about the shooting, including that Lopez was likely high on marijuana at the time he was killed.

Blood samples taken from Lopez's body during the autopsy revealed significant levels of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, according to the report. The levels were consistent with Lopez smoking marijuana 60 to 75 minutes prior to his death, according to Dr. Reese Jones, a specialist hired by the District Attorney's Office to review the findings.

Lopez also had a joint and a bottle of Visine on his body at the time he was killed, according to the report. The THC levels in Lopez's system likely affected his behavior that day, Jones said.

“Cognitive and behavioral effects that typically follow marijuana use would likely have been present to a significant degree during the interval following,” Jones wrote, according to the report.

A 13-year-old boy high on marijuana would likely have had suffered “impaired judgment, slowed decision making and increased mental processing time,” the report found, “particularly when having to deal with performance of a sudden, unanticipated tasks, including decisions that needed to be quickly responded to.”

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