Detective’s Diary has been keeping watch on the aftermath of the death of 13 year old Andy Lopez in the outskirts of Santa Rosa October 22 of this year. Andy was gunned down by sheriff deputy Erick William Gelhaus within seconds after Gelhaus saw the middle school student walking along Moorland Avenue with a bb gun. Our friend and colleague, Private Investigator Alex Salazar, has been working on the case for the Lopez family’s attorneys (one of whom is, like Jan B. Tucker, a 1970s era CSU Northridge Mechista).
The killing is being “investigated” by the Santa Rosa Police Department while many activists, community residents, and outraged citizens are calling upon the District Attorney Jill Ravitch to bring criminal charges against the law enforcement officer, a highly trained weapons instructor.
A public records search of campaign filings was made of the incumbent Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas who is seeking another term next year by longtime Peace & Freedom Party activist and Detective’s Diary reporter Irv Sutley. The Freitas financial documents show that the sheriff (whose employee, Deputy Gelhaus is under investigation by the SRPD) has as his campaign committee director one Ernesto Olivares. Mr. Olivares is not only a former high ranking officer of the Santa Rosa Police Department and now a current Santa Rosa city council member but was also formerly city mayor. The Freitas-Olivares connection ordinarily might not have attracted much comment other than being just another example of the old boys network among county law enforcement.
That is until Sutley while going through the Freitas for sheriff campaign documents came across the committee’s physical address: 415 Steele Lane, Santa Rosa, California. This location is property owned by the City of Santa Rosa and is the headquarters of the Recreation, Parks, & Community Service programs of the City of Santa Rosa.
Sutley, a Peace and Freedom Party organizer since February 1967 who served as State Chair from 1970-72, says the filings clearly show that council member Olivares is breaking the law and misusing city assets and city property in furtherance of his personal management of the campaign on behalf of the county sheriff:
“No candidate or campaign committee has the right to misappropriate public property or public monies while pursuing their political ambitions. There needs to be an investigation of Ernesto Olivares in this matter. Did the sheriff know and when did he know? The city attorney, the district attorney, the state Attorney General and possibly federal agencies need to look into these Olivares misdeeds in the Steve Freitas campaign. A corrupt individual relationship like this in electoral matters may indicate that there can not be justice for Andy Lopez when these same individuals are and have been part and parcel of ‘investigating’ each other’s ‘good shootings’ which are always held to be justified.”