FBI probes California deputy's killing of boy with toy gun

SAN FRANCISCO Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:57pm EDT

A photo of Andy Lopez Cruz is shown at a makeshift memorial at the site of his death in Santa Rosa, California October 24, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

A photo of Andy Lopez Cruz is shown at a makeshift memorial at the site of his death in Santa Rosa, California October 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The FBI has launched an independent investigation into a deputy sheriff's killing of a 13-year-old boy while he was walking to a friend's house this week to return a replica of an assault rifle, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas announced on Friday night that the FBI will conduct an inquiry into the shooting death of Andy Lopez Cruz in Santa Rosa, a community in northern California's wine country.

Hundreds of protesters, many of them Latino teenagers, have demonstrated daily, calling for an investigation into the Tuesday afternoon incident in a blue-collar neighborhood of Santa Rosa.

While the Santa Rosa Police Department and other local agencies continue to investigate the shooting, civil rights advocates have sought an independent federal investigation.

The FBI's San Francisco office will "review all the facts and see if there was any federal crime committed, whether the individual's civil rights were violated," said spokesman Peter Lee.

Freitas said he welcomed the FBI probe into the death of the popular eighth-grader who played the trumpet and basketball and enjoyed teasing friends.

The deputy, a 24-year veteran of the force, saw Andy carrying what he believed was a real rifle, feared for his life and fired eight shots at the hoodie-clad boy as he walked along a vacant lot about a block from his family's mobile home, authorities said.

The tragedy is the latest in a number of police shootings involving people with toy weapons and has reignited calls in Sonoma County to create a civilian review board to examine such incidents.

Police said the boy had his back to the deputy and a deputy trainee, both of whom commanded him to drop the gun as they crouched behind the door of their patrol car.

When Andy turned toward them with the gun still in his hand, the veteran deputy began firing from a distance of 20 to 30 feet, officials said.

Seven bullets struck Andy; two of the rounds were fatal.

Andy's father, Rodrigo Lopez, said he believes his son may not have heard the deputies' orders.

"I think he would have done what they told him," he said. "I know him, and he has respect for the law, for police."

A police spokesman told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper that it remained unclear whether Andy, who enjoyed listening to music, was wearing ear buds at the time.

No more than 10 seconds elapsed from the time the deputies spotted the boy carrying what they believed to be an assault rifle and the moment they shot him dead, police said.

Because of social media threats leveled against the two officers, the sheriff said he would not release their names at this time. Both have been placed on administrative leave.

Andy's parents said a friend left the plastic assault rifle at their home last weekend, and he was on his way to the friend's house to return it after school when he was shot.

An orange tip that is required to be placed on imitation air guns apparently had been removed from the one Andy carried.

"They didn't have the right to kill him," Andy's distraught friend, Magaly Bejaran, 13, told Reuters.

(Reporting By Ronnie Cohen; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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Comments (6)
hawkeye19 wrote:
FBI? You mean Holder’s Brown Shirts? If Obama had another son it would have to be “Andy”. This generation is twisted and evil, the worst in history. If Andy had killed the cop Holder would be leaving on vacation.

Oct 26, 2013 5:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
zhanyeye wrote:
6′ or taller weights around 200 pounds California policies or deputies are afraid of boy carrying toy gun or 4’9″ oriental woman waving a vegetable peeler. They get paid more than $100,000 a year.

Oct 26, 2013 6:07pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
geot2 wrote:
Two things. One, as I’ve got it, the toy that the child sought to deliver, was, itself, just delivered to him, for the purpose. So I would like to know about the person that did that and background of that event. Then the one who called it in, I would like to know if there were any possible connection between the caller and the first deliverer, looks a tiny bit like a possible set up. Paranoid perhaps but a reasonable investigation topic.

The other thing is guns. We are a Nation of Industry, here, of Guns; the second amendment but a ruse. Nowhere have I ever heard a 2nd amendment pusher ever include the words from it, “well regulated,” in his screed. It’s not their fault, it’s propaganda. The gun industry pushes, and Americans are just not the sort of people to push back.

This being the case, and children being children, perhaps we ought to resign ourselves and give them training that embraces our admittedly paradoxical free police, “procedures.” Not NRA style gun training, but police state training. I modestly propose that schools begin this at at at the very first year, for no child is too young to save, and so to train.

The training would consist of regular school drills with an announcer. Best if it’s a human, not a PA, and clad in police cloths, not just a familiar teacher. The caller would, at any random time when kids are up and about, shout, “Halt,” or “Freeze.” As a single man, the body of children must instantly stop; any offending must be punishable by detention or some other disagreeable punishment, that reenforces the fact that to disregard orders has consequences. Other commands too, like, “Drop it!” Kids would be required to, would be conditioned to, instantly drop their books or lunches or whatever. Same punishment. “Get down on the grounds! Move! Move!” And like in the train station scene from The Great Escape, the amber waves of children’s heads would instantly collapse to height zero. A sight to thrill the authorities and anyone with a martial bent (and I do mean, bent).

This is the ideal way to prevent these sorts of incidents, considering that de-romanticizing guns is a non-starter. And consider the benefits over time. These children will grow up. In a couple decades you’ll see the mass of American adults equally expeditious in following orders, as we presently have a number of hemmers and hawyers. There. That’s what we like.

Oct 26, 2013 6:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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