General Crime

Andy Lopez Shooting Protester David Douglas Pleads Not Guilty to Obstructing Officer at March

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A Santa Rosa man was arraigned this morning for allegedly obstructing a police officer during a protest last month of the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff’s deputy. David Douglass, 24, pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge and will return to Sonoma County Superior Court Jan. 28 for a settlement conference. More than a dozen family members and supporters were present at the courthouse this morning.

After his arraignment, Douglass, who majors in film and Latin American studies at the University of California at Berkeley, said the charge is “ridiculous, bogus and politically motivated.” He and his supporters said the sheriff’s deputy who shot Lopez, Erick Gelhaus, should be on trial for murder. They said local politicians are intimidating the immigrant community and protestors who are demanding justice for Lopez. Gelhaus, 48, a 24-year sheriff’s office veteran, shot Lopez seven times on Moorland Avenue southwest of Santa Rosa city limits on Oct. 22. Santa Rosa police, who are investigating the shooting, said Gelhaus believed the airsoft BB gun Lopez was carrying was an AK-47 assault rifle and he was in fear of his life.

Gelhaus was placed on paid administrative leave but returned to work in an administrative office early this month. Douglass was arrested Nov. 26 during a march down Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa. His mother, Nieves Douglass of Santa Rosa, said she taught her son to “stand up to bullies and to always speak up for others.” At a demonstration at Santa Rosa City Hall on Dec. 10, Ramon Cairo, 30, of Santa Rosa, was arrested for one felony and one misdemeanor charge of obstructing of a public officer and a misdemeanor charge of battery on a peace officer. Cairo pleaded not guilty, and a preliminary hearing date is to be set on Jan. 8.

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