Sonoma County Sheriff Deputy Erick Gelhaus’ involvement in the October 22, 2013 shooting of Andy Lopez, prompted Santa Rosa resident Jeff Westbrook to speak out about his encounter with the deputy two months ago that left him rattled and in the midst of filing a complaint with the Sheriff’s Office.
“In the moment I was scared to death. Later, I said, ‘What the heck is going on?’” Jeff Westbrook, 57, of Santa Rosa said.
Gelhaus had pulled Westbrook over on his way to work at about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 21 on Highway 101 south of Cotati.
Gelhaus walked up to the passenger door, slipping on the steep hill. Westbrook asked the deputy if he should make more room on the roadside for him and when he put his BMW into neutral, Gelhaus pulled out his gun, according to Westbrook.
“He’s screaming and he’s ballistic — ‘Turn off your vehicle’ — I go, ‘Sir, it is off,’” Westbrook said. “He jumped to an extreme situation in no time at all.”
Westbrook said that moments later he faced Gelhaus’ gun again outside the car when Gelhaus asked if he had any weapons and Westbrook pulled up his shirt to show he had none.
Westbrook said he had exchanged several emails with a sheriff’s sergeant since the encounter, the most recent just days before the Oct. 22 shooting. The sergeant told Westbrook that Gelhaus had pulled him over because his BMW matched the description of a car deputies were searching for, Westbrook said.
“I don’t know if there’s anything I could have done,” Westbrook said. “I have a very remorseful feeling, I feel like I should have been more aggressive with my complaint.”
Reported in Press Democrat on November 1, 2013: http://m.pressdemocrat.com/articles/131101-fdf194bba2.html#page0