Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Reports indicate Mississippi cops shot Ismael Lopez in the back of the head, adding a layer of vulgarity to Trump's police speech and reflecting the futility of seeking rational conversation with many cops

Ismael Lopez and his wife
In a speech last week to law-enforcement officials, Donald Trump seemed to encourage police brutality. In the same speech, Trump made a reference to the Second Amendment, apparently suggesting that cops should feel free to open fire  on suspects at will.

It would be interesting to ask Ismael Lopez, of Southaven, Mississippi, what he thinks about these developments. Unfortunately, Lopez is not available for comment. Just a few days before Trump's speech, he was shot and killed by police trying to serve a warrant . . . at the wrong house.

Yep, some of the cops we entrust with mega doses of lethal weaponry are not capable of reading house addresses correctly. And the Lopez shooting appears to be another case of cops trying to blame a victim of their brutality. It also shows that it often is futile to attempt rational communication with a cop. Carol and I know that from firsthand experience.

According to initial reports, Lopez answered the door and pointed a gun out the crack, prompting officers to yell at him to drop the gun, firing when he did not immediately do so. That, of course, is the law-enforcement version of events. Family members and witnesses now are saying Lopez had no gun, and that police fired through a closed door, not one that was open, as Desoto County District Attorney John Champion had claimed. From a report at CBS News:

Wednesday, however, Lopez family attorney Murray Wells painted a starkly different picture of the events leading up to Lopez's death. Speaking to reporters, Wells said Lopez's wife was in the bedroom with Lopez and insists her husband did not have a gun when he walked towards the door.

Wells said Lopez's wife never heard any verbal commands or instructions before the officer opened fire, and Lopez's body fell "many feet" from the door.

Wells shared pictures with WREG-TV of the home's door marred with bullet holes. He said investigators he hired concluded that the door was closed when three shots were fired through it, not open as Champion said.

"You can track the trace of the bullets. Three bullets went into that door and the door was shut when those bullets went into the door," Wells said. "My investigative team has concluded it was direct line. ... There is no way the door was cracked open and someone was there."

According to a report at the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, police shot Lopez in the back of the head:

An attorney for the family of Ismael Lopez, the auto mechanic fatally shot by police in Southaven, says he was killed by a single gunshot to the back of the head.

The attorney, Murray Wells, said Friday that the lawyers got permission from family members and from the coroner's office to view the body at the morgue. There, a lawyer for the firm discovered an obvious gunshot wound to the back of the head, Wells said.

Wells wouldn't say which of the firm's lawyers went to the morgue, but said it wasn't him, and that there are only four attorneys at the law firm, Horne and Wells.

The family attorneys and a close friend of the family had previously raised concerns about bullet holes in the front door of the home and drew the conclusion that Lopez had been shot through the closed door.

Wells called for the resignations of Southaven officials involved, as well as a Department of Justice inquiry.

Wells told The Los Angeles Times that officers involved in the shooting should face criminal charges. From The Times report:

"We think it was an execution," Wells said at a news conference Friday at his Memphis office. "Now, when you're firing through a door, we think it complicates things. Physical evidence says their story isn't true. . . .

"This man died running away from people who were trespassing on his premises."

A reasonable citizen might ask, "Couldn't this have been avoided if Lopez had tried to talk with police and explain that they were at the wrong house?" Experience has taught me that such an effort almost surely would have failed.  No. 1, a lot of cops aren't very bright and don't seem capable of rational discussion or any form of reason. No. 2, many cops are ignorant of the facts and law surrounding a case, and they like it that way. They aren't about to listen to anyone who tries to interject reality into a situation.

Consider our experience with Missouri deputies who conducted an unlawful eviction that led to Carol's broken arm. I repeatedly tried to explain to them that we had filed a Notice of Appeal, and under Missouri law, that placed a stay on the eviction. In essence, I said: "You're at the right house, but you've got the facts and the law all wrong -- and with the eviction stayed -- you have no lawful grounds to be here."

Statements from cops in an investigative report show that they knew I was right -- I had filed a Notice of Appeal. Unfortunately, the cops' own words show they were clueless about Missouri law on the subject. Here are the words of Officer Debi Wade:

Mr. Shuler was being very argumentative and was adamant that there was a court ordered stay on the case but otherwise appeared to be following the deputies' directives once outside of the residence.

Although I had checked for any changes in the case earlier that morning, I told [Mr. Shuler] that I would check on it again to ensure nothing had changed. I looked up the case on and found no change to the case since I had last looked. Mr. Shuler had made a motion to stay, but the judge had not ruled on it yet. therefore there was no court ordered stay at that time. I called into the office and asked our paralegal to contact our attorney's office to verify that they were not aware of any changes to the case and was told to proceed with the execution. I came back and attempted to tell Mr. Shuler my findings, but he did not want to listen to reason, only to argue with us.

First, I should note that much of what Wade says is a lie. She never said a word to me about checking with her office. I suspect her claim about contacting a paralegal is false. I repeatedly raised the issue with Sheriff Jim Arnott on the scene, and his response was to turn his palms upward and shrug his shoulders. I'm not sure he ever uttered a word about it, and certainly no other officer did.

Most importantly, Wade got the law wrong, on multiple grounds. Under RSMo 534.350, the eviction was unlawfully scheduled inside the 10-day window for filing an appeal. And the filing of a Notice of Appeal, plus payment of an appeal bond, puts an automatic stay on execution. (Our case did not involve an appeal bond because there were no money damages, and we paid appropriate appellate fees. We have documents that show the Missouri Court of Appeals had received our Notice of Appeal, and all attorneys in the case had electronic access to that information -- in addition to the notice I had provided to opposing lawyers.)

By law, a stay does not have to be "court ordered." It is in place when the Notice of Appeal is filed. Wade admits I filed the notice, but she is too stupid to know the law. Then she claims I didn't "want to listen to reason, only to argue" with her. She didn't provide any "reason"; she only proved that, like all other officers on the scene that day, she is dumb as a frickin' post.

Officer Jeremy Lynn fits into the same category. Here are his words about what happened after he and 6-8 other officers burst into our home:

The male was being verbally confrontational and resisting by non compliance to commands. Based on his actions, he was secured in handcuffs and removed from the home. He was identified as Robert (sic) Shuler.

Once outside, both parties [Carol and me] continued to scream and yell at us uncontrollably. Once we were able to calm them down, we advised them they were being evicted per a court order. Both parties continued to debate the legalities and justification of our actions. It was then explained that they were leaving per the court order, and if they wanted any property from in the home, they would need to calm down, then they would be allowed to get it.

The home had been posted before the eviction and neither party had made any effort to pack the home.

How stupid is Lynn? One, there is zero evidence that he or anyone else had a valid court order to evict us. Two, the court docket shows judgment in the case clearly is labeled "interlocutory" (non-final), with a followup hearing set for 10/1/15. There could be no valid court order, authorized by a judge, based on a non-final order. Of course, Jeremy Lynn is too stupid to know that.

Then, note his tough-guy language, highlighted in yellow. This is classic "copspeak" -- you are going to do what we say, regardless of the facts and the law and whether we have a valid court order or not. Notice Lynn's last sentence: He claims the home "had been posted," but were the postings lawful? No, they were not -- and given the judge's non-final order -- they couldn't have been.

This is almost certainly the kind of response Ismael Lopez would have gotten if he had tried to explain to cops that they were at the wrong house. Consider the words of Lopez' lawyer; they apply to his case and to ours. This from a report at The Washington Post:

The family’s attorney, Murray Wells told reporters the house officers should have gone to, had a large ‘P’ on the door. [According to the arrest warrant, cops were looking for a man named Samuel Pearman -- hence, the 'P' on his house. Did the cops bother to ask Ismael Lopez if his name was Samuel Pearman? Did the cops wonder why a man with a Europe-based name like Pearman looked Hispanic? The answers apparently are nope and nope. It's easier to shoot first and ponder such issues later.]

“They should have never been on the [Lopez] property in the first place,” he told the Commercial Appeal.

The lawyer nails it with this: "[Police] should have never been on the property in the first place." The same applies to our case, and cops admit I tried to tell them they had no lawful grounds to be on our property -- and it did absolutely no good because they are resistant to listening. In fact, cops seem to be resistant to thought, period.

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