California Cops Shoot and Kill 13-Year-Old Carrying Toy Rifle

Officers in Sonoma County, Calif., shot dead 13-year-old Andy Lopez Tuesday as he walked home from school carrying a toy rifle.

Just days after a 12-year-old boy in Nevada shot dead his math teacher and himself with an all-too-real handgun, the Sonoma incident reflects not only a troubling epidemic of trigger-happy policing, but a context wherein a young boy carrying a toy rifle is assumed to be carrying a real weapon. Rania Khalek, who highlighted the incident on her blog, questioned “whether or not race played a factor in the decision to shoot.”

Khalek reported on the details of the shooting, as put forward by the police account. The police version of events fails to make clear the time frame of events, or how long the police waited before opening fire on a child carrying a toy:

According to Lt. Dennis O’Leary, two deputies on patrol spotted a “male subject” walking in the area carrying what they believed to be a rifle, at which point they called for backup and told him to drop the weapon.

“At some point immediately thereafter, the deputies fired several rounds from their handguns at the subject, striking him several times,” O’Leary said, adding that Lopez fell down and “landed on top of the rifle he was carrying.” But they didn’t stop there. Though Lopez was unresponsive and bleeding out, the officers handcuffed him before administering first aid and calling the paramedics. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The shooting is being investigated by Santa Rosa police, Petaluma police and the Sonoma County district attorney’s office.

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