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FBI and SCSO 

Update on the FBI role in the Andy Lopez case

click to enlarge debriefer-43539db731843bd5.jpg

Last week, the Bohemian reported on an intra-agency FBI electronic communication from Oct. 30, 2013 that showed the agency had quietly de-prioritized its involvement in the shooting of Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy. The FBI communiqué said that the agency had inadvertently opened a "full investigation" into the shooting on Oct. 25, and that an FBI higher-up had stepped in and reclassified their role as an "assessment"—the lowest tier of FBI priorities. Lopez was killed on Oct. 23.

In response to a California Public Records Act request, the Sonoma County Counsel's Office said on March 20 that there was no record of any communication between anyone in the county—including at the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office or the District Attorney's Office—and the FBI in the aftermath of the shooting.

After our story came out last week, the county informed the Bohemian that the sheriff's office had, in fact, found a record of communication between the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and the FBI. The undated handwritten telephone-call note, reports Deputy County Counsel Petra Bruggisser, "may have occurred during the time frame specified in your request. The phone call pertained in part to another case, unrelated to the Lopez case, and general FBI contact information in officer-involved shooting cases. ...The note simply reflects that the FBI informed the sheriff's office about opening a case. The sheriff's office maintains that it had no involvement in the FBI's investigation and no knowledge about the FBI's internal administrative handling or classification of the case."

The text of the note: "Associate [unclear] counselor. Open a case, civil rights case. Shooting. Controversial shootings."

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