The family of a South LA man who was shot and killed last year by Los Angeles Police Department officers Monday sued the city of LA, alleging in federal court that officers violated the man's civil rights by using deadly force when it was not necessary.
The lawsuit, filed in L.A. federal court, alleges that 22-year-old Margarito Lopez was suffering from a mental health crisis last Dec. 18 when officers "overreacted'' and shot and killed him. Family members and their attorneys will be available at a news conference Tuesday in South Pasadena to discuss the lawsuit.
Video released by the LAPD "confirms that Lopez was not a threat to anyone when he was shot and killed,'' according to the family's attorney Luis Carrillo.
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An LAPD spokesman said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
A week after the death, the LAPD issued its version of events.
According to the department, on Dec. 18 around 7 p.m., officers from the Newton Division responded to a radio call of a man armed with a knife in the 900 block of East Adams Boulevard, between Central Avenue and San Pedro Street. When the officers arrived, they saw Lopez, armed with a butcher knife. Lopez was ordered to drop the knife, however, he ignored the officer's commands, according to LAPD.
The department reported that an officer fired a foam projectile at Lopez, which was ineffective. Lopez continued in the direction of the officers, still ignoring the officer's commands to drop the knife, according to LAPD.
At that time, a second foam projectile was fired, followed by the officer-involved shooting. Lopez was struck by gunfire and fell to the ground. Los Angeles Fire Department personnel took Lopez to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to the LAPD's statement.
Police said the knife was recovered at the scene.
The Lopez family's lawsuit alleges that Lopez was having a mental health crisis when his sister contacted 911 to request assistance. Officers arrived on scene at 7 p.m. to find Lopez on the steps of the apartment building with a knife in his hand.
LAPD officers remained at a safe distance away behind their squad cars with guns "fixated'' on Lopez, according to the plaintiffs.
After yelling at him and shooting less-than-lethal rounds at him for several minutes, Lopez stood up and started to turn around when officers fired four live rounds, killing Lopez instantly, the man's family alleges.