The protesters flooded the council chambers at about 4:30 p.m, just as retiring Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm was being recognized for his 30 years of service. "No justice, no peace," the demonstrators chanted. Council members stopped the proceedings and most left the room.
One of the protesters, Ramon Cairo, who organized the cross demonstration, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer with a protest sign as demonstrators tried to get into the chambers.
Police said another officer was punched in the face, but the suspect in that incident was not arrested. Demonstrators said Cairo did not act aggressively toward police.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors also took a short recess from its afternoon public comment session when a speaker refused to adhere to a time limit.
"There's no issue in this county that rises to a higher need to be addressed than the death of Andy Lopez," said Jonathan Melrod, a Sebastopol resident and organizer with the Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez.
"You can cut off my mic, you can have the sheriffs pull me out of here — that's irrelevant. We want to know why (Deputy) Gelhaus was returned to work!"
Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Due?s, who announced Gelhaus' return late last week, said Tuesday that Gelhaus had been brought back to work because an ongoing internal inquiry by the Sheriff's Office has found that Gelhaus followed department procedure.
"We're not done yet," Due?s said, stressing that the determination was not final. "I'm just saying that based on what we know and based on what we have, it doesn't look like there was any violation of policy."
The internal review is based on an initial briefing by Santa Rosa police, shared with the Sheriff's Office, which included police interviews immediately following the shooting with Gelhaus and the trainee deputy with him that day. The trainee did not fire his gun.
The Sheriff's Office review is not looking at criminal wrongdoing. That is the purview of an investigation by Santa Rosa police, overseen by District Attorney Jill Ravitch, who will determine whether Gelhaus faces charges.
"We're not talking about guilt or innocence; we're talking about policy," Due?s said about the sheriff's review. "Was deadly force used? Did he follow deadly force policy?
"Right now, there's nothing screaming at us that he violated any policy," Due?s said.
Civil service rules give the Sheriff's Office discretion over personnel moves in such cases, including the option to keep a deputy on administrative leave or bring him back, Due?s said.
Sheriff Steve Freitas "gave the final nod," Due?s said.
"In good conscience, we can't just let him sit there," he said. "Our job is to get him back to work."
On Tuesday, police and sheriff's officials deployed large numbers of riot-gear-clad personnel wherever protesters marched, including City Hall, the Police Department and the Sheriff's Office.
At the county jail, demonstrators demanded the release of Cairo. Protesters, some of them children, pounded on the jail's glass doors and windows, chanted slogans and banged on drums. One of the jail's front glass doors was broken.
When sheriff's officials declared the protest an "illegal assembly," the demonstrators began to fear the use of tear gas. Demonstrators left the jail premises as deputies in riot gear began to clear the front breezeway.