(Written by an American expat living in Germany where German Police Used Only 85 Bullets Against People in 2011)
This week the Sonoma County California prosecutor stated they will not prosecute a Northern California sheriff's deputy in the matter of the shooting death of 13 year old Andy Lopez. Socorro Shiels, Santa Rosa schools superintendent, said of Andy: "His administrators and teachers will remember him as kind, intelligent and capable." http://www.petaluma360.com/...
Andy Lopez was a 13 year old all American boy of Hispanic descent from Santa Rosa, Calif who while walking home from school with a friend's BB gun was shot and killed by Deputy Gelhaus on October 22nd 2013. After a full investigation Sonoma county prosecutor just as in the 60 cases that had proceeded this incident elected not to prosecute law enforcement officers in the matter of the killing. In doing so this created wide spread protests in the Santa Rosa Hispanic community and beyond.
The story prima facie seems to pattern itself indistinguishably to a long list of such shooting tragedies that occur throughout America with such regularity that they become accepted as part of the social norm. Except that as an American expat living in the EU I know that internationally this is not the norm. Therefore this diary offers a perspective that is different enough that you are likely to find this is anything but the run of the mill usual story. In fact this is also due in part to the fact Deputy Gelhaus has been unusually outspoken publicly in his position, as a published author essentially advocating a policy of shoot first and ask questions later for police officers. So strongly does he advocate this position in his published writings, that one begs to ask the question does such advocacy come close to the standard of mens rea which in law refers to the guilty mind required for premeditation. So you see this isn't at all your run of the mill shooting tragedy article, and indeed if you take the time to read on you may find this diary is an altogether different event.
As a young boy growing up in America of European ethnicity, we never were in fear of being shot to death when we ran around in our neighborhood with our BB guns during our pre-teen years. Later in our teens many of us graduated to responsible gun ownership in our first 22 rifle and learned responsible gun ownership and gun safety almost as a right of passage before we went into the military. By which time many of us were crackshots already. Of course in the military either on active duty or in the National Guard we learned that we had to operate within certain rules of engagement which meant that the decision to pull the trigger was never taken beforehand. This is the direct opposite of what Deputy Gelhaus as a military and police firearm's instructor and SWAT officer advocates in his published writings. He says you have to take that decision beforehand or you may not come home. Certainly we must ask is this why Andy Lopez never made it home that day and in fact will never be allowed to come home again.
Let's look at the brief facts of the case as shown in the video below taken by a passerby's cell phone camera moments after the shooting, which shows Officer Gelhaus hiding behind the open door of his police cruiser and his partner doing the same thing right after it is believed the fatal shots had already rang out. Statements taken show that Andy was walking home when the police cruiser came up behind him, where the police officers came out, hid behind their doors and allegedly ordered Andy several times to drop the gun. As Andy Lopez was wearing a hoodie covering his ears it's possible he may not have clearly heard the officer's command and when predictably as the startled child, finally turned around to see what was going on according to witnesses he was shot and killed by Deputy Gelhaus, who claims that the barrel of the BB gun as Andy was turning was moving in his direction. He therefore felt threatened and in fear of his life and for this reason he claims he took the decision to shoot Andy to death, where he shot him 7 times. Concurrently his partner for reasons unknown did not shoot Andy at all. This was the tragic and indeed very sad set of circumstances that unraveled. The community's feeling a sense of betrayal and deja vu concurrently having suffered 60 deaths in the past decade was visibly shaken, disturbed and rightly grief stricken. Clearly if there had been a good community policing effort the officers should have known Andy who had lived in the area all his life. But deputy Gelhaus was a complete stranger to Andy.
California law isn't really too much different than the law in other States, in that it gives police officers an enormous amount of discretion, as to whether or not to shoot and kill a suspect, who they genuinely feel their lives are threatened by, fearing death or serious injury would come to themselves or someone else. It is this trust that the law places in its sworn police officers that the community in Rosa feels has betrayed them, that in fact it was plainly visible and indeed obvious to witnesses at the time of the shooting that neither of these officers or anyone else was ever in any danger from Andy Lopez. This becomes clear from the account of witness Ismael Mondragon, who said that he could tell that this was clearly just a toy gun by the way Andy was carrying it, swinging it around because it had no weight to it at all. He says quote, "no because it was very light, when he was walking with that very light." Even cut versions of the Ak47 like the AIMR and the AKS-74U aren't weightless.
Indeed this very issue is in evidence with the photographs below. A close examination of which proves Mr Mondragon's point. In what appears to be a public relation's move by the Sheriff's dept and County prosecutor, in what may only be described as a show and tell public relation's exercise, we see that the Deputy holding the toy BB gun in his right hand furthest away from the camera is able to hold it right out there easily for what was a sustained period of a photo op. Whereas the real AKA 47 he holds in the other hand is held in much closer to his body, this is due to the weight of the weapon, and anyone who knows anything about firearms at all would immediately understand that.
The BB gun which is continually referred to by the Sheriff's Dept and the press as a replica AKA 47 assault rifle is anything but an actual replica. However many Americans have been shot to death by police at their front door holding nothing more than a remote control in their hands, because an officer claims he was in genuine fear of his life and took a split second decision to fire his weapon and kill the resident. So the fact the BB gun isn't an actual AKA 47 replica, (it doesn't even have a front iron sight) that has no weight to it at all doesn't really matter as much as we would think. You see because that kind of a weapon with its weight couldn't be carried in the left arm in a sustained fashion walking along by the average skinny armed 13 year old child under 5 foot in height. If such a weapon were in fact real it would have to be carried with a sling . Still when confronting a 24 year veteran Sheriff's Deputy Gelhaus, who has had military experience in Iraq and is a trained swat officer, you would expect his trained powers of observation to have noted what witnesses at the scene, to include Mr Mondragon noticed, which was the toy gun had no weight to it at all.
But that really didn't matter, because Deputy Gelhaus in his writings clearly stated that you have to make the decision to kill in advance. We know that's true because he did kill Andy Lopez without hesitation just as the boy was turning around, even before his partner could take a decision to shoot. From accounts Andy Lopez was already dead because Deputy Gelhaus took the decision in advance by way of premeditation that he would be coming home that night, which for Andy tragically meant that he would never be able to come home again.
In another online post, Gelhaus described his tenure as a deputy as a time of "the good, bad, terrible & indifferent," and advised one person asking for career advice to consider the potential of having to face the "very rare" situation of "having to take a life so that you survive and go home to yours."
THE TIME TO MAKE THAT DECISION IS NOW, NOT AT 1A.M. IN A MUDDY DITCH OR GARBAGE-FILLED PARKING LOT,"
ACCORDING TO THE BRITISH NEWS PAPER THE MAIL. FROM THE TIME GELHAUS REPORTED SEEING ANDY HE WOULD HAVE LESS THEN 10 SECONDS TO LIVE.
This clearly speaks to a degree of disturbing premeditation,
The Daily MailBecause while no one can know what exactly at the moment the shots rang out what a police officer is thinking, and the laws says in Calif if he is in fear of his life and he is able to convince others of that fact, that he will not be prosecuted. As the law provides for a presumption that we will trust the police officer's word in this regard, there isn't any way for the public to actually know what Deputy Gelhaus was thinking. therefore he is entitled to say that he felt in fear of his life, and therefore fired his service revolver 7 times into Andy Lopez, almost instantly as he was turning around. From the autopsy report we know that Andy was shot in the back before he was even able to turn all the way around as he was stuck in the right buttock.
Those who have protested the shooting said the deputy did not give ample warning
before opening fire. Investigators have said 10 seconds elapsed between the time
Gelhaus and a trainee reported a 'suspicious person' and then reported shots fired
to dispatchers. The trainee did not open fire.
"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.As a defense Gelhaus simply says he was in fear of his life and had to shoot.
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.
Investigators also found four rounds in the area of the shooting."
As none of us are mind readers, this type of police officer's defense could never be interfered with by the public, except for one thing, Deputy Gelhaus published that you have to make this decision in advance in his writings. This is truly disturbing, because this speaks to a clear degree of premeditation. The law doesn't say you are allowed to take this decision beforehand as to how you will or won't react. The law says you must take that decision right there and then, and that meant at 3:14 pm on October 22nd 2013 which was the time of Andy's death, that decision had to be taken by, because that is the only instant that Deputy Gelhaus is allowed under the color of law to take the life of Andy, as a justifiable homicide. Whereas Deputy Gelhaus says in his heart he had already taken that decision beforehand, and therefore he is not entitled to the protection provided by California law given his premeditation as in evidence by his writing. Where he incites others to do the same thing.
In law school I learned for the first time the phrase police testalying. Where it is believed veteran police officers mentor younger police officers on how to best lie when testifying in Court. Is this what Gelhaus with complete impunity is doing here below? If not why not and how should we feel about police officers suborning perjury with complete impunity as the price of them protecting the property of the rich, so as to keep them in power no matter what the cost!!
Gelhaus' participation in the forum was confirmed Friday by Denny Hansen, S.W.A.T.'s editor-in-chief.
In one revealing thread, forum members debated whether the use of force is justified if someone brandishes or fires a BB GUN at another person.http://www.petaluma360.com/...
Gelhaus chimed in, writing that "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," Gelhaus wrote.
Now we get to the real tragedy of the matter because the prosecutor in the case knew all about this. She even knew about Deputy Gelhaus' writings on point and she still refused to prosecute him, even refusing to take the matter to the Grand Jury, who therefore was never entitled based on their preponderance of the evidence to take a decision. As such given the unlawful actions of Deputy Gelhaus and the prosecutorial negligence, the people are crying out that the Federal Dept of Justice investigate the matter. There seems to be clear evidence that law enforcement in this case is unable to police itself properly and as such I ask and urge you to write to your member of Congress and ask them to forward your letter to the Dept of Justice, even if you're not from the State of Calif, because this is an area of federal responsibility and jurisdiction, as the civil right's of Andy Lopez have been clearly violated. To prevent further abuses all across America, a full Dept of Justice investigation is warranted, particularly as in the past decade there has been in excess of 60 suspicious deaths, where law enforcement to date has not been held to account in Santa Rosa. I say let there be a full and thorough investigation by the Dept of Justice, and let the evidence dictate how the matter is progressed. Therefore I urge you to write a letter to the White House directly to President Obama, because it is his Dept of Justice which has the responsibility to investigate the killing of Andy.
Is Lt. Henry lying?
"The deputy then fired several rounds from his service weapon at the subject," said Lt. Paul Henry, "striking him at least one time. The subject immediately fell to the ground."
Neighbor Ethan Oliver said he saw things a little differently. Oliver claims he exited his house after hearing two gun shots and saw Lopez already on the ground.
"Then the cops went at it again and unloaded like 6 to 7 shots,” said Oliver. Asked if he meant the deputy shot Andy while he was on the ground, Oliver responded, "Yeah. Exactly what I saw."
HOW DO OTHER HIGHLY INDUSTRIALIZED NATIONS HANDLE THESE TYPES OF PROBLEMS?
As a quick final thought as an American expat living in Germany, the year before last (that is 2012) there was a publication made based on a study throughout all of 2011 that here in Germany police fired less than 85 bullets for the entire year. Half of those shots were warning shots.
German Police Used Only 85 Bullets Against People in 2011
According to Germany's Der Spiegel, German police shot only 85 bullets in all of 2011, a stark reminder that not every country is as gun-crazy as the U.S. of A.
(Yes it's true German Highway Police drive Porsches as there is no speed limit on the AutoBahn. But then again they are one of the best Police force/PEACE OFFICERS in the world in the richest country in the E.U. Maybe we should import them to train American police in Community policing and public safety).
DID YOU KNOW THAT FROM FROM 1995 TO 2010 THAT THE ENGLISH POLICE ONLY SHOT 33 PEOPLE?
Police have shot dead 33 people since 1995 -
Updated: 00:49 GMT, 26 September 2010
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...
The truth is that we as Americans when we consider the cultural norms of other major industrialized countries like Germany, it's clear that we as Americans have given the militarized police state too much power and too much discretion. Isn't it time that as owners of the country at the ballot box we started taking back some of our power to protect our families, our communities and the American people at large from an out of control police state, who serve and protect primarily the property interests of the 1% instead of the interests and public safety of mainstream working class America. Until the responsible parties for Andy's death are investigated by the DOJ, none of us no matter where we are or who we are will ever be safe again, because this tragic incident has taken our peace of mind. In speaking for myself it has taken my ability to give my old BB gun to anyone else. I will not be able to pass that gift on, because though I never knew him in life, I will always remember Andy.
Please help us get Andy's story out by sharing this diary and ones like it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media. We need your help to get the word out. Thank you.
* PS: As a number of posters have wrongly put the blame in their comments on the toy gun manufacturers in the matter of Andy's tragic shooting, rather than Deputy Gelhaus, I would simply like to ask why, oh why, isn't this a problem in Germany, Japan, England to the extent that it is in the U.S. How many more of these senseless tragedies must we suffer before we as owners of the country take action at the ballet box to assert control over the militarized American police state.
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