A jury in Mississippi has decided not to pursue a civil lawsuit against two police officers who fatally shot a man while carrying out an execution of a warrant at the wrong location. The action was brought by the deceased’s family.
Ismael Lopez’s death in 2017 at the hands of Zachary Durden and Samuel Maze, both of whom were employed by the Southaven Police Department, was ruled by a federal jury in Oxford on Thursday to not represent a violation of Lopez’s constitutional rights as a result of the incident. Following a hearing that lasted for four days, the judge found in favor of Claudia Linares, Lopez’s wife, who had claimed that she was entitled to $20 million in damages.
As the defense attorney Murray Wells described to WREG-TV, the jury deliberated and came to the conclusion that the amount of force used by Officers Durden and Maze was not excessive after hearing all of the evidence.
Lopez was a Mexican citizen who was living in the United States illegally. He was also subject to deportation orders and criminal charges for unlawfully holding guns. Previously, the city of Southaven argued that the individual did not have any civil rights that needed to be infringed upon.
This assertion was debunked by a judgement from a court in the year 2020, which said that the Constitution protects “all persons.”
After determining in June that neither the city of Southaven nor the former police chief of Southaven, Steve Pirtle, were liable for the officers’ actions in accordance with federal law, Senior United States District Judge Michael P. Mills dismissed the case that was brought against both of them.
On July 24, 2017, according to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, investigators allegedly went to Lopez and Linares’ trailer and knocked on the door while they were asleep inside. When the police officers attempted to serve a warrant for domestic violence on a neighbor on the other side of the street, they got the addresses confused.
Officers did not produce identification when they were questioned by state investigators, although they did confess that they had knocked on the door. According to the officers, Lopez was standing outside at the time when the door opened and his dog ran out. After that, the suspect reportedly pointed a weapon through the gap. First Maze shot the dog, and then Durden opened fire on Lopez, all of which occurred in short succession.
A third officer who arrived on the scene told investigators that he heard Durden urge Lopez many times to put the pistol down before he fired his firearm on the suspect.
There is no video of the incident that has been verified.
The 41-year-old man was fatally wounded more than two meters away from the front door when he was shot in the back of the head. He passed dead as a result of his injuries. He was reportedly trying to evade the authorities’ attempts to apprehend him.
The lawyers for Lopez disputed that their client had pointed the gun at the police, but sadly, Lopez was unable to make it to the hospital before he died suddenly. The firearm was located around five and a half feet away from the deceased individual’s body, and neither his fingerprints nor his DNA were on the weapon. The fact that they saw Maze shoot the dog led them to believe that Durden was the one who was guilty for Lopez’s death.
When state investigators arrived at the home, they found Lopez’s body in the middle of the living room with his hands tied behind his back. He had been strangled. On the couch was a weapon that had not been loaded.
Following their investigation, the members of the state grand jury decided not to bring any charges against anybody involved in the shooting.
Darren Musselwhite, the mayor of Southaven, has issued a statement in which he expresses his regret at Lopez’s passing and his contentment with the results of the inquiry.
According to Musselwhite, this judgment reinforces our earlier judgement that our officers behaved properly in the face of a serious threat of lethal force. Because of this, we have been there for them for the last six years, and now that their hardship is over, we are rejoicing in their success.