The family of a man fatally shot by police nearly a year ago has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department.
They say 22-year-old Margarito Lopez was suffering a mental health crisis and that not calling a crisis team during the initial response was a mistake.
Family members said they called police for help the evening of Dec. 18, believing Lopez was suicidal. He hadn’t committed a crime or hurt anyone.
When officers arrived, however, Lopez was armed with a knife. Police can be heard on body cam video telling Lopez to drop the knife and using less-than-lethal rounds. Police ultimately shot Lopez to death during the encounter.
Attorney Luis Carillo said Tuesday that officers overreacted and should have called a mental crisis team to the scene.
“This was, in my opinion, a cold-blooded murder of this young man by these officers because he was never an imminent threat,” Carillo said, adding that the officers “blasted (Lopez) to kingdom come.” “That’s an outrage.”
“Instead of helping him, they just killed him,” Lopez’s sister, Sonia Lopez, said.
In an interview with KPCC a month after the shooting, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said a team from the department’s mental health evaluation unit should have been dispatched to the scene, but also indicated it is hard to tell whether that would have resulted in a different outcome.
Lawyers for the Lopez family said they are waiting for the results of the LAPD’s excessive force investigation.
LAPD officials said Tuesday they don’t comment on pending litigation.