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

  • Law enforcement officials investigate the scene of a officer involved shooting near the corner of Moorland and West Robles avenues on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. A 13-year-old boy was shot and killed by officers after they spotted him carrying what appeared to be a rifle, but was actually a pellet gun modeled after an AK-47. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

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.

The boy's death has prompted a series of protests, vigils and marches, with members of his neighborhood and a wider crowd of parents and schoolchildren, nearly all of them Latino, demanding answers.

More events are planned by organizers this week, including a protest and march on the Sheriff's Office on Tuesday.

Ravitch's statement appeared to be an attempt to respond to the rising outcry.

"Each of us wonders how his death could have been prevented and what we can do to keep something like this from ever happening again. Underlying these questions is a nagging concern about the lasting impact of this tragedy on the community's trust in our law enforcement officials," Ravitch said.

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