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Prosecutors: Police shooting reviews take average of six months

Faced with a politically-charged ruling on an officer-involved shooting that killed a Santa Rosa 13-year-old, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch released statistics Thursday showing the average turnaround time for such a decision is more than six months.

The information came out as critics accused Ravitch of planning to stall her decision about the legality of the Oct. 22 killing of eighth-grader Andy Lopez until after the June 3 election.

A district attorney spokeswoman denied any plan to delay the ruling. Office members were reviewing a report delivered Wednesday by Santa Rosa police investigators and would release a finding when they are done, Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook said. She stressed the 90-day time period suggested in a county protocol was only a guideline and not required by law.

"This decision is going to take as long as is necessary to be thorough and complete and consistent with the demands of justice," Cook said. "And we don't have any idea how long that is going to take. We just received the reports."

Ravitch could not comment Thursday because she was out of the office on a family emergency, Cook said.

Prosecutors exceeded the recommended 90 days to make findings in 23 out of 30 police shootings, jail deaths and other fatalities dating back to 2005, according to statistics released Thursday by the District Attorney's Office.

(<b>Read the statistics <a href="http://srweb.sar.dc.publicus.com/assets/pdf/SR26579130.PDF"><i>here</i></a> </b>)

Ravitch has ruled on five such incidents since she took office in 2011, taking an average of about four months, the data said. Three of the reviews took 90 days or less. The longest review took more than seven months.

Activists accused the district attorney of laying the groundwork for months of foot-dragging to avoid losing voters who have already formed strong opinions about whether the deadly shooting was justified. They called on her to release the police report and any recommendation.

"Every politician would rather not take a difficult stand before an election," said Jon Melrod, a Sebastopol attorney and member of a coalition group that has been protesting the shooting. "It's inevitably going to alienate one side or the other."

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