Activists protest decision to not criminally charge deputy who fatally shot California teen

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SANTA ROSA, California — Activists in Northern California on Saturday protested a decision to not file criminal charges against a sheriff's deputy who fatally shot 13-year-old Andy Lopez.

About 200 protesters staged a rally in downtown Santa Rosa to denounce the decision by Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat ( ).

"Ravitch says justified, we say homicide!" the crowd chanted in the Old Courthouse Square.

On Monday, Ravitch announced her office cleared Deputy Erick Gelhaus of any criminal responsibility for shooting Lopez on Oct. 22 as he walked near his home in Santa Rosa.

Ravitch says Gelhaus mistakenly believed the teen's pellet gun was an assault rifle and the deputy feared for his life.

The district attorney's report cited autopsy results showing that Lopez had smoked marijuana before the shooting, and a medical expert concluded the drug likely impaired the teen's judgment.

Demonstrator Karen MacDonald of Forestville said she believes Gelhaus should lose his job or at least not be allowed to patrol the streets. Better training and more just policies could have prevented Lopez's death, she said.

"They created the situation," MacDonald said. "That kid should not be dead."

Lopez's death have aggravated racial tensions in Santa Rosa, a city of about 170,000 people north of San Francisco, and led to numerous demonstrations to protest police brutality.

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