Police Officers Found Not Liable For Shooting Latino Man At Wrong Address
The verdict has shocked many, considering police shot and killed Lopez after mistaking his Southaven home for someone else’s. Turning up at the wrong address, officers changed the course of Lopez and widow Claudia Linares’ lives forever — with no consequences.
As reported by The Washington Post, Ismael Lopez was a mechanic that helped out his neighbors with car troubles, and mentored teens. Lopez was married to Linares, who was at home with him when police officers unexpectedly knocked on their door on July 24, 2017.
The tragic shooting’s aftermath has had many twists and turns over the years. This includes the city of Southaven, Mississippi’s 2020 motion to dismiss the case on account of Lopez being an undocumented immigrant. They claimed that his immigration status meant he had no constitutional rights.
The Lopez’s family’s attorney Murray Wells responded at the time, “We’re stunned that someone put this in writing.”
A federal judge swiftly dismissed the motion. However, the latest ruling tied to the case means police officers are getting out scot-free — and Lopez’s widow is left without justice.
Mississippi police shot and killed Lopez after they knocked on the wrong home
As described by Magnolia Tribune, Lopez and Linares were asleep at home in the early morning of July 24, 2017. They heard a knock on their trailer, located at 5881 Surrey Lane in Southaven.
At the time, officers Zachary Durden and Samuel Maze were searching for a man named Samuel Pearman after a woman filed a domestic assault complaint against him. As fate would have it, Pearman lived across from Lopez — and the officers mistakenly went to Lopez’s home instead.
Some time after police knocked on Lopez’s trailer, Durden shot three bullets through the door. One of those bullets shot Lopez in the head as he was possibly turned around, or running away. Lopez died from the gunshot wound at home, and authorities found his body handcuffed in his living room.
Apart from the evidence, officers and the Lopez’s family’s legal team have different recollections of what happened.
As per AP News, officers admitted that they knocked on Lopez’s door without identifying themselves. They said the door opened, and that Lopez pointed a rifle at them. At that point, they say a pit bull ran out of the house, and that Maze shot the dog.
A third, unidentified officer says Durden told Lopez to drop the rifle. Later, the officer shot at Lopez, and killed him.
Lopez’s legal team says that experts did not find his fingerprints and DNA on the rifle he was allegedly holding. Plus, authorities found the rifle more than six feet away from Lopez at the time of his death.
After Lopez’s death, his widow searched for justice
In response, Lopez’s widow Claudia Linares filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Southaven, Mississippi in June 2019.
The city claimed at the time that Lopez did not have constitutional rights because he was an undocumented worker. Specifically, they said this meant that Lopez did not have 4th amendment protection, which insures people against unreasonable searches.
However, a federal judge dismissed the city’s claim in October 2020. The Lopez family’s lawyer Aaron Neglia said at the time that Linares’ was “happy” about the news, but still “adjusting” to the tragic events.
“She’s very happy with this. She’s still very hurt adjusting to life and murder of her husband. It’s a senseless murder,” he described to Fox 13.
The city’s arguments continued, even claiming that Linares could not sue, because she was also an undocumented immigrant. They argued that she and Lopez were not actually married, even though they had a marriage certificate from 2003.
Fast forward to just this month, and the Lopez family did not obtain the outcome they waited so long for. As reported by AP News, a Mississippi jury just cleared Officers Durden and Maze of any wrongdoing.
A jury deliberated for four days in federal court over Linares’ $20 million lawsuit against the city, police chief, and officers. While Linares’ legal team argued that the city violated his civil rights, the jury found that the officers were not liable.
This means that Linares will not receive any compensation for the tragedy.
Linares’ attorney Murray Wells explained to WREG, “The verdict was that the jurors did not believe that the use of force used by Officers Durden and Maze was excessive in light of all the facts that they considered.”
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