SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — A California sheriff's deputy who shot a 13-year-old boy carrying a BB gun was expected to return to duty, though he will be assigned to a desk job until prosecutors decide whether to file criminal charges, authorities said.
Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus will begin the administrative assignment this week as the district attorney determines whether he committed criminal wrongdoing in the shooting of Andy Lopez, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported (http://bit.ly/1hI00PJ).
Gelhaus has been off duty since shooting Andy seven times on Oct. 22 as the teen walked in a Santa Rosa neighborhood. Gelhaus told investigators he believed the BB gun carried by Lopez was an assault rifle.
The shooting led to numerous protests and threats against Gelhaus.
Gelhaus is returning to duty after undergoing mental health screening, Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas told the Press Democrat in a story published Friday.
Gelhaus was deemed fit for full duty but will not yet return to patrol, Duenas said.
Santa Rosa police and the FBI are investigating the shooting. Duenas said an internal Sheriff's Office review is also ongoing.
The deputy's return to duty upset people who have protested the shooting.
Michael Rothenberg, a member of the Andy Lopez Organizing Group, told the Press Democrat it was a slap in the face to the community. Protesters have said Gelhaus opened fire without ample warning and have demanded criminal charges against him.
"It shatters any hope for the time being that there's going to be justice," Rothenberg said of Gelhaus' return to duty.
Lopez's family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages.
Information from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, http://www.pressdemocrat.com