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District Attorney: No decision yet on charges in Lopez shooting

Ninety days after Santa Rosa police turned over their reports on the October shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday it is still investigating the incident to determine whether the sheriff's deputy who fired the fatal shots violated the law.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch's much-awaited decision could come before or after a June 3 election in which she is seeking a second term in office.

Activists critical of local law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of the shooting have pressured Ravitch to charge Deputy Erick Gelhaus. On Tuesday, a group of about 10 demonstrators with the Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez gathered at 11:30a.m. outside Ravitch's office at the county courthouse to demand she make her decision.

"I think it's really important to keep this in the forefront of people's attention," said Marni Wroth of Forestville. "We're tired of officers (involved in shootings) not getting repercussions."

The county's protocol for investigation of fatal, officer-involved shootings states that it is the district attorney's responsibility to provide a written summary within 90 days addressing whether officers involved broke the law.

Ravitch has said the 90-day window is a guideline, not a legal requirement. In a statement Tuesday, the district attorney said she was "mindful" that the community is anxious for her office to issue a decision. But she did not provide a timeline for when the report will be finished.

"I will release my decision and its basis to the public once we have completed this process," Ravitch said. "I ask for your patience as we continue to seek a just decision with the utmost integrity, seriousness and fairness."

Ravitch was attending a quarterly meeting of Bay Area district attorneys Tuesday in San Mateo County and was unavailable for an interview. She released a written statement knowing that people would be curious about the case and that she would not be there to answer questions, said Assistant Sonoma County District Attorney Christine Cook.

Ravitch is entering the final stretch of her re-election campaign, vying against Victoria Shanahan, a deputy prosecutor from her office. Voters can begin casting ballots by mail Monday.

Some activists have accused Ravitch of putting off the politically fraught decision on Gelhaus until after the election.


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