Altimira hosts ‘conversation’ with law enforcement on Tuesday
The legal aspects of the shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, killed late last year by a sheriff’s deputy in Santa Rosa, essentially ended when the county district attorney opted not to press charges in the case.
But the emotional aspects take more time to sort out, which is why county leaders established the Community Engagement and Healing Subcommittee, part of the Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force.
The subcommittee includes El Verano Elementary School Principal Maite Iturri – and Tuesday night, tonight, there’s a community meeting to further address the matter.
Described as “an open conversation with Sonoma Valley law enforcement,” the meeting is open to everyone and billed as a chance to “ask questions, offer comments and share experiences” with the Valley’s law enforcement personnel, who fall under the command of Sonoma Police Chief Bret Sackett, a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department lieutenant.
The meeting will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the Altimira Middle School Multipurpose Room, 17805 Arnold Drive, Sonoma.
Iturri was not available for comment Monday, but in a previous conversation with the Index-Tribune she said “good work is being accomplished” by the task force.
“The issues being tackled are very complex,” Iturri noted, adding, “Anything worth doing requires time and energy.”
Subcommittee members hope that through dialogue, the community and law enforcement personnel will come away with stronger bonds and renewed trust.
Lopez was shot to death on Oct. 22 by a sheriff’s deputy who mistook his air gun for an AK-47. The deputy, Erick Gelhaus, was absolved in July following a lengthy investigation by District Attorney Jill Ravitch, who concluded the shooting was justified because Gelhaus thought Lopez was carrying a real assault rifle when the boy turned to face him. Gelhaus continues to serve in the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.
The 21-member Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force was formed late last year by the Board of Supervisors in response to the shooting and the public outcry that followed. Task force members were broken up into three subcommittees, with Iturri sitting on Community Engagement and Healing.
For more on the Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force, call 565-6611 or visit sonoma-county.org/communitylocallawtaskforce.