You know there’s something seriously wrong with this country when police shoot and kill a child for carrying a toy gun. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that 13-year-old Andy Lopez was walking to a friend’s house, while carrying an Airsoft toy pellet gun, around 3:15 p.m. on October 22nd. A police officer on patrol thought the toy gun was an assault weapon and reportedly asked the eighth grader from Santa Rosa, CA three times to drop the gun. Perhaps Andy Lopez didn’t hear him — he was walking in the other direction and had his back to the officer — but he failed to follow orders. The officer then shot him seven times. Andy Lopez is the youngest person to ever be shot by police in Sonoma County.
Oh, and the police described Lopez as wearing a hoodie. Apparently it’s still open season on brown-skinned boys wearing hoodies. After shooting Andy Lopez seven times in the back, the police officer — a sheriff’s deputy — then tried to save the boy’s life, but it was too late. In a local NBC News report, Lopez’s father said in Spanish that he had warned his son not to walk around with the BB gun, but the boy said he was bringing it back to his friend’s house. The elder Lopez then added that he still would never believe that the shooting was justified. Andy Lopez was born and raised in Sonoma County, CA, and his parents came from Sonora, Mexico.
Here’s the video with NBC’s report the Andy Lopez shooting.
Santa Rosa police and the FBI investigate the Andy Lopez shooting.
Santa Rosa police launched an investigation soon after the Andy Lopez shooting. And now, The Press Democrat reports, the FBI is launching a separate investigation. The FBI rarely handles local police matters of this nature, but perhaps the feds are tired of people shooting brown, hoodie-wearing teenaged boys for no good reason. Before moving ahead, the FBI gave Sheriff Steve Freitas and Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm the head’s up on Friday. Santa Rosa Police still plan to move forward with their own investigation. Schwedhelm told The Press Democrat they’re sure they’ll hear more from the FBI, and that they plan to cooperate fully:
We’re a professional policing organization,” Shwedhelm declared. “We’re following up on every investigative lead we have.”
Yet, The Press Democrat mentions a possible reason for the FBI’s interest in the Andy Lopez shooting — concern about police brutality:
The most common civil rights complaints investigated by the FBI include allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement personnel causing injuries or death, according to the agency’s website.
Since 2000, 26 people have died in Sonoma County in officer-involved shootings, including five cases where officers’ use of a Taser was linked to the deaths.
So far, details on the Andy Lopez shooting are murky. No one can even say for sure whether Lopez was wearing headphones and listening to music at the time, or whether the police officer sounded his siren so the boy would have a chance to respond. The officer has been suspended from duty.
Students, neighbors and others protest the Andy Lopez shooting.
The NBC report also mentions that there’s a lot of “anger and frustration in the community” over the shooting, and a serious “disconnect” between the police and the people of Santa Rosa — at least the ones in the late Andy Lopez’s neighborhood. Hundreds of students, neighbors, and others turned out for a candle-light memorial for Andy Lopez, and for a protest march. A neighbor who witnessed the shooting through his rear view mirror from a distance told a reporter that the shooting happened so fast he didn’t see or hear much of anything.
Nor do the neighbors see Andy Lopez as the kind of kid who would defy a police officers. One neighbor, Vanessa Moreno, told NBC Bay Area News:
“He was that one kid who was like, oh, look, Andy’s here. He always brought a smile to everybody’s face. Now that he’s gone, it’s devastating.
One thing many of us know for sure. There’s something seriously wrong with our country when Andy Lopez – a 13-year-old boy – gets shot and killed by police for carrying a toy gun. It’s bad enough that police are becoming more and more drastic and violent in how they respond to situations that aren’t all that dangerous. And that more and more Americans seem to think it’s okay to shoot first, ask questions later. But it’s also disturbing that the boy’s toy gun looked like a real weapon, and that the police officer was so scared he pumped seven bullets into the kid before he could even turn around.