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Protester of Lopez killing arrested after suspected theft

A Santa Rosa man who has complained of law enforcement harassment for his role in a series of protests over the October shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez was arrested last week in connection with an investigation into a theft Jan. 16 at Friedman’s Home Improvement, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said.

Jose Godoy, 24, was arrested Friday night and booked into the Sonoma County Jail following a noisy confrontation between Godoy, several onlookers and a sheriff’s deputy who was trying to question him about the theft, Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Brown said.

Godoy was not booked on a theft charge.

Sheriff’s officials said Godoy, accompanied by four other people, was seen on surveillance tape taking a $60 blowtorch from the store, and that he did not stop when contacted by a Friedman’s employee.

The employee identified Godoy and provided three digits from the license plate of a departing vehicle that matched Godoy’s, Brown said.

On Friday, the deputy who took the report in the Friedman’s incident observed Godoy driving on Santa Rosa Avenue and followed him, initiating a traffic stop behind a Bellevue Avenue apartment complex with the intent of interviewing Godoy about the suspected theft, sheriff’s officials said.

Godoy was uncooperative and verbally aggressive, as were several people he beckoned to come outdoors from the apartment building, causing the deputy to retreat toward his car, Brown said. But then an agitated Godoy walked quickly toward the deputy, clenching and unclenching his fists, and the deputy handcuffed him, arresting him on suspicion of delaying an investigation and violation of probation, Brown said.

Godoy posted bail soon after he was taken to jail Friday.

The fracas is the latest encounter between law enforcement and Godoy, who was one of three men arrested Dec. 10 on suspicion of obstructing law enforcement during a major protest over the Oct. 22 death of Lopez, who was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy who mistook his airsoft BB gun for an assault rifle, officials said.

Godoy, who is on probation for a misdemeanor child endangerment case from 2012, was arrested again Jan. 9 by Santa Rosa police investigating reports he had brandished a firearm at another driver, authorities said. Godoy and two teens who were detained at gunpoint with him said the firearm was a staple gun, and that the arrest was part of a pattern of intimidating and harassing activists involved in the demonstrations.

Godoy on Tuesday repeated there was no gun Jan. 9 but declined to address whether he was caught on tape shoplifting a $60 blowtorch from the home improvement store, as authorities contend.

He is due in court this morning in connection with the Jan. 9 incident.

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