The family of a 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a Sonoma County, Calif., sheriff's deputy who mistook the teen's airsoft rifle for a real AK-47 has filed a legal claim against the county, alleging negligence and excessive force, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The claim is a precursor to a civil rights lawsuit that an attorney for the family of Andy Lopez Cruz said would be filed Monday at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
On Oct. 22, Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot the eighth-grader as he walked with a replica AK-47 pellet gun near his home just outside Santa Rosa. Gelhaus told investigators he shot Andy because he thought the gun was real and because he felt threatened when the boy turned toward him.
But the family's claim, filed Thursday by attorney Arnoldo Casillas, says Gelhaus shot Andy "without cause or provocation" as a result of training that "encourages deputies to prematurely shoot suspects who pose no threat or danger to deputies or the public at large."