Attorney General James’ Office of Special Investigation Releases Report on the Death of Raymierik Lopez
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) today released its report on the death of Raymierik Lopez, who died on December 16, 2021, after an encounter with an off-duty officer from the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Following a thorough investigation, which included review of security camera footage, witness interviews, and crime scene analysis, OSI determined that justification could not be disproved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, and thus criminal charges against the off-duty officer were not warranted in this matter.
Around 3 a.m. on December 16, 2021, an off-duty NYPD officer left a nightclub in Woodside, Queens to wait for his friend. He was sitting in the front seat of his car with the driver’s side door open, across the intersection from the nightclub. Another car pulled up next to the off-duty officer’s car and Mr. Lopez and two other individuals in ski masks got out and approached the officer. Mr. Lopez and the other men grabbed at the gold chains that the off-duty officer was wearing around his neck in an apparent attempt to rob him. They exchanged gunfire and retreated.
The off-duty officer was transported to a local hospital and treated for his injuries. Mr. Lopez was also transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Officers recovered two firearms at the scene, one of which was the off-duty officer’s service weapon.
The two individuals who were with Mr. Lopez before fleeing the scene were apprehended in the days following the incident, and their cases are being prosecuted by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.
Under New York’s justification law, a person may use deadly physical force to defend against the imminent use of deadly physical force by another. To convict a person of a crime when the defense of justification is raised at trial, the prosecution must disprove justification beyond a reasonable doubt.
In this case, the off-duty officer was the victim of a robbery in progress and reasonably believed that his life was in danger. Under these circumstances, given the law and the evidence, a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the off-duty officer was justified in his use of force, and OSI determined that criminal charges could not be pursued against him in this case.