In a report released today involving the death of Junior Lopez, on April 6, 2018, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the actions of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officers involved were legally justified and reasonable.
On April 6, 2018, LVMPD officers saw a vehicle being driven recklessly and traveling approximately 65 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone. They conducted a vehicle stop on Madge Lane, and the driver of the vehicle, Mr. Lopez, exited the vehicle. He dropped a handgun on the pavement as he got out of the car and it landed a few feet away from where he knelt down in front of the officers. Officers repeatedly gave Mr. Lopez commands to stay in his car, and not reach for the gun. He ignored their commands. Instead, Mr. Lopez twice yelled at the officers “Shoot me”, as he reached for the gun on the ground. Mr. Lopez then picked up the gun and pointed it at the officers. Each of the two officers fired their weapons at Mr. Lopez, striking him. Mr. Lopez fell to the ground and then rolled to his back. Officers continued to give commands, telling him not to move, and not to reach for the gun. Mr. Lopez then rolled to his left side, toward the gun. One officer fired one more round at him. Once the firearm was secured, Mr. Lopez was transported to Sunrise Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
An autopsy revealed that Mr. Lopez had a blood alcohol level of .170, which is twice the legal limit.
“During this entire encounter, there were two other people in Mr. Lopez’s vehicle, and thankfully they were not injured” said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. “The officers’ actions in this situation were a direct result of Mr. Lopez’s refusal to comply with their commands and the danger he posed to the officers, the passengers in his vehicle, and any innocent bystanders in the surrounding area. ”
A Police Fatality Fact-Finding Review was conducted in this incident on February 28, 2019. Clark County Code mandates such a review when a police-involved death occurs, and the prosecutor preliminarily determines that no criminal prosecution of the officer is appropriate.
The determination that the officers acted lawfully in this situation is based upon the evidence available at this time. The case could be reexamined if new information comes to light.
The full report is available on the District Attorney’s Web page