A biased expert?

EDITOR: One aspect of the Andy Lopez case that I did not read about in your newspaper was that the district attorney was aided in reaching her decision by hiring William Lewinski of the Force Science Institute. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Lewinski was known to side with the police. Lewinski issued a 14-page report that said he reviewed statements by other witnesses but only interviewed Deputy Erick Gelhaus.

Perhaps more than one expert consultant should have been hired for this difficult case?


Santa Rosa

False logic

EDITOR: Bill Stone’s letter (“Failing the test,” Friday) and Donna Brasset-Shearer’s thoughtful Close to Home column (“Andy Lopez and behavior of the law,” Friday) collapse under the weight of the logic they try to reach.

The fact that an officer made Stone’s “deadly mistake” in a split-second to a perceived life-threatening situation is exactly the risk Stone recognizes the officer’s difficult and dangerous job requires of him. He saw a boy with an exact clone of a lethal weapon; a weapon seen all too often in the tragedies of school and public mass killings. He told the boy to drop the weapon. The boy turned, raising the weapon. The officer fired. Case closed. A justified shooting conclusion was mandated, irrespective of the law’s “behavior.”

The real issue, which has seemed too insensitive to address, is why and how this boy was permitted to publicly brandish this clone weapon, which inevitably led to this moment of confrontation. Of what practical, joyful use as a toy is an exact replica of a weapon that sadly is now iconic in our culture as a hand-held weapon of mass destruction?


Little River

Cowardly timing

EDITOR: I find it interesting that District Attorney Jill Ravitch made her decision not to charge the deputy who shot a 13-year-old boy until after she was re-elected. As I stated in a letter to her office, that act indicates cowardice. Are we to believe she didn’t feel this way before the election?

Ravitch had a responsibility to the public and to the parents of the young boy long before the election. She took the easy way out. Now we are told, by Ravitch, that this killing was justified. The deputy who killed the boy is a veteran and a police instructor for such tactics. With all that experience, he shot that boy seven times, and his partner didn’t even draw his weapon.

Am I in the minority thinking Ravitch sided with procedure and cronyism instead of taking a higher moral stand? Shame on all of us.



The real crime

EDITOR: After the district attorney’s decision to not prosecute Deputy Erick Gelhaus, your paper printed about how Andy Lopez’s gun looked so real, the threatening way Andy turned around and that Andy might have smoked pot. You made it sound as if Andy committed the crime. The real crime happened before the deputy got out of the car. Its name is prejudice, and the Sheriff’s Office and the officer trainers and lots of people in this county are guilty.



No failure

EDITOR: I take the strongest issue with the letter from Bill Stone suggesting that Deputy Erick Gelhaus “failed the real life test” in stopping Andy Lopez with deadly force (“Failing the test,” Friday).

Lopez was a big kid for his age with a mature face, easily mistaken for a young adult. We have all seen the images of pre-teen gangbangers with bandanas over their faces and wielding automatic weapons with the will to use them. So, please, take age off the table.

Lopez tested positive for marijuana at 13. He was wielding a highly accurate replica of a vicious weapon with a 30-round banana clip, virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. If Gelhaus had made the wrong decision and that weapon was the real deal, how many might have died, perhaps the officer and his partner among them? Then this would be a very different conversation. Officers such as Gelhaus never have the luxury to assume these are “toy guns.” That is the real life test he lives every day.


The Sea Ranch

Kudos to Ravitch

EDITOR: It’s what we tell our children. Stand up to bullies. Don’t let bullies intimidate or manipulate you. So kudos to District Attorney Jill Ravitch for having the courage to practice what we preach, even when the bullies are obstructing our freeway and creating enough bluster to get their pictures on the evening news.