By now, most of you are aware of the killing of 13 year old Andy Lopez by Sonoma Deputy Erick Gelhaus, who claims he mistook his toy AK-47 for a real rifle and thought his life was in immediate danger. This afternoon, SFGate is reporting an earlier incident involving Gelhaus that raises serious questions about this man's mental stability.
A Santa Rosa resident named Jeff Westbrook claims that after being pulled over last August by Gelhaus for not signaling a lane change, Gelhaus pulled his gun on Westbrook not once but twice. Gelhaus ordered him to turn off his BMW, which had already been turned off. At that point Gelhaus pulled his weapon. After writing the ticket, Gelhaus ordered Westbrook to follow him back to his cruiser and pulled his weapon again before frisking him.
The interaction troubled Westbrook so much that he recalled asking Gelhaus at one point, "Sir, is there something wrong with you?"Westbrook did report the troubling incident to Gelhaus' superior, but now says he is "devastated" to learn that this is the same man who shot and killed Andy Lopez.
"I felt like I was watching somebody I needed to help," said Westbrook, 57, a program manager at an information technology company. "This was not right. He did not manage this correctly."Pulling a gun twice on a person who is fully cooperating during a routine traffic stop should, in my opinion, have raised some red flags with this deputy's superiors.
Westbrook said he is now wondering whether he should have pressed his complaints.
"I'm struggling with that now," Westbrook said. "I'm wondering, if I had fought this a little more aggressively - actually waved around like a chimpanzee with my arms in the air to the district attorney's office and come down there physically - that maybe something could have changed. I don't know."