February 14, 2014
One of last year’s heartbreaking stories involved 13-year-old Andy Lopez, who was shot to death by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff in October after the deputy spotted him carrying a realistic-looking pellet gun. Deputy Erick Gelhaus said he called on Lopez to drop the gun, and shot him seven times as the boy turned toward the officer with the barrel of the gun rising.
The shooting continues to spark discussions about the proper use of force by police officers — especially after Lopez’s parents filed a lawsuit alleging that county officials “were long aware of the propensity of defendant Gelhaus to recklessly draw his firearm and to use excessive force.”
Given the high-profile nature of the Lopez case, one would expect the legislature to weigh in, especially given a number of other recent and troubling use-of-force incidents. But as often happens, legislators have come up with a “solution” that skirts the main issue. Legislators from both parties had different takes on the bill during an assembly debate, but both viewpoints seemed equally off the mark.