Flutterby™! : Shooting of Andy Lopez

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Shooting of Andy Lopez

2013-11-01 18:11:24.123044+00 by Dan Lyke 0 comments

So there's a bunch of fallout here in Sonoma County over an incident in southwest Santa Rosa where a 13 year old boy was carrying an "Airsoft" rifle while walking across a vacant lot, and a long-time Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy pulled up in a patrol cruiser, and within 10 seconds of calling in to the dispatcher had shot the 13 year old 7 times. The coroner's report says:

During Thursday's autopsy, Dr. Arthur Josselson with the Forensic Medical Group determined one of the fatal bullets entered the right side of Lopez's chest and a second fatal wound was caused by a bullet that entered his right hip, Henry said.

Lopez was also wounded on his right wrist, left bicep, right forearm, right buttocks and right hip, all non-fatal injuries, Henry said. The doctor recovered three bullets from the body.

So the kid was apparently shot in the butt, and spun as he fell. The deputy involved has a long history of espousing the militarization of policing:

The Sheriff's Office confirmed Sunday that Deputy Erick Gelhaus, 48, fired the shots. A 24-year veteran of the office, Gelhaus has been a frequent advocate in his writing for a prepared, aggressive stance in law enforcement, a profession he has described as a "calling" and likened to a "contact sport."

And was a regular columnist for S.W.A.T. Magazine, which breaks down "S.W.A.T." as "Survival Weapons And Tactics", and bills itself as "The Nation's Premier Gun Magazine". So: Mall Cop Monthly. And his Photobucket site has this grisly crosshairs and skull and crossbones version of the "Coexist" sticker.

KQED quotes him from S.W.A.T. (and could just be quoting the Press Democrat article above):

"Today is the day you may need to kill someone in order to go home."

And from a 2005-2006 Firing Line forum discussion:

"It's going to come down to YOUR ability to articulate to law enforcement and very likely the Court that you were in fear of death or serious bodily injury. I think we keep coming back to this, articulation — your ability to explain why — will be quite significant."

He's also mentioned on The Sonoma County Sheriff's "about history" web page:

In 1990, the first members of GRIT, the Gang Resources & Investigations Team (a precursor to today’s MAGNET) were detectives and Deputies Mike Ferguson, Bruce Rochester, Lorenzo Duenas, Dennis Smiley, Perry Sparkman, Joe Raya, Kevin Young, Jon Watson, Erick Gelhaus and Leslie Comrack.

Clearly, the dude is someone you want reaching out to the youth in the community in order to establish relationships and divert them from gang membership...

So, a couple of thoughts here: I know a bunch of kids down in Marin who played with Airsoft BB guns, and they report having had talks and interactions with police down there. Lopez's plastic device didn't have the orange tip, but I've gotta say that when I saw the kids in the woods out in Lagunitas there was a paucity of orange tips there. But, of course, those kids were white....

...and Marin police departments are probably also a lot less gung-ho "let's go shoot something" than Sonoma's. For the longest time, the Petaluma Police Department web page had the scariest-ass Flash slideshow of cops all decked out in paramilitary gear. When this was mentioned as a negative, the response was "well, we need that for recruiting", which, frankly, was even scarier.

No matter what, extrajudicial executions seems like a high penalty for open carry.

An AK-47 with a Walnut stock, the gun that the plastic replica somewhat resembled, is not a light weapon. It's hard to believe that a kid casually carrying the plastic version would look like a kid carrying the real thing.

I'm not a firearms expert. I was taught to shoot a rifle at a fairly young age (which is why the weight of the weapon stood out: The bolt-action .22 I learned on was substantially heavier than even my neighbor friend's wood stock Crossman air rifle/pellet gun (without orange tip)). The extent of my "might be downrange" is that in hunting season in rural New York state you assumed that you were always potentially down range; drunk city-dwellers were notoriously bad about differentiating targets.

But it does seem to me that if we allow police departments to be places where an adversarial relationship with the populace is tolerated, we will end up with more of this.

Anyway, this all ended up as a framing for why I found this link so terrifying: Columbia, SC Police Chief: DrugWar WrongThink Creates Reasonable Suspicion To "Find You". In which a police chief responds to a Twitter correspondent who reacts to a drug bust as:

...worrying about a stoner that's not bothering anyone. It'll be legal here one day anyway.

with the response that expressing that sentiment is

... giving us reasonable suspicion to believe you might be a criminal..

We need to get these fuckers out of policing. And it's going to be a huge institutional sea change.

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