After investigators initially said a man was fatally beaten upon being pulled from his truck by pedestrians he nearly struck outside a Hawthorne bar, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Thursday revealed a new “twist” in the case.
There’s no evidence that Melguin Lopez-Santos “sustained any fatal trauma,” Villanueva told KTLA Thursday afternoon.
Lopez-Santos had been kicked out of Rock It Sports Lounge at 14239 Hawthorne Blvd. around 2 a.m. Saturday after being involved in a verbal altercation.
After leaving the bar, Lopez-Santos allegedly got into his pickup and rammed it onto the sidewalk, where surveillance video shows at least seven people were standing at the time.
Some of the bystanders tried to pull Lopez-Santos from the truck after it came up against a tree, but he accelerated away and ultimately crashed into a brick wall at a nearby liquor store.
Investigators have said bystanders were then successful in pulling Lopez-Santos from the pickup and a fight ensued.
According to Hawthorne police officers who responded to the scene, Lopez-Santos was found dead of apparent blunt-force trauma.
But when coroner’s officials completed an autopsy Tuesday, there was no evidence he sustained any fatal trauma, Villanueva said.
“They’re still pending toxicology results, and they have not given a cause for the death,” the sheriff said. “It has been deferred by the coroner’s office, so the investigation is still ongoing.”
Villanueva said deputies are also still working to locate witnesses to help “piece this together.”
Lopez-Santos’ family on Monday called for justice in the case, saying they feel there’s a larger story.
“I want the truth,” said Monica Perez, the man’s common-law wife. “Somebody is covering something in this bar and we need to investigate.”
Lopez-Santos leaves behind four children, according to a GoFundMe campaign.