Attorney General James’ Office of Special Investigation Releases Report on Death of Enrique Lopez
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) today released its report on the death of Enrique Lopez, who died on December 28, 2022 in Suffolk County. Following a thorough investigation, which included review of police radio transmissions, interviews with witnesses, and evidence from the scene, OSI concluded that a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) officer who shot Mr. Lopez was justified.
On the afternoon of December 28, 2022, three SCPD officers responded to a 911 mental health call at an apartment complex in Medford, Suffolk County. The caller reported that Mr. Lopez was acting erratically and threatening to harm his roommate with a fire extinguisher. When officers arrived, they attempted to engage Mr. Lopez by asking him to come out of his room, but Mr. Lopez refused to comply. Once the officers were inside Mr. Lopez’s room, he stabbed both officers with a knife. One of the officers fired his service weapon in response, striking Mr. Lopez. Mr. Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers recovered a knife at the scene.
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 person. When the defense of justification is raised at trial, the prosecution must disprove justification beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, Mr. Lopez was threatening to harm his roommate before he stabbed two police officers. Under these circumstances, based on the law and the evidence, a prosecutor would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer who fired was justified, and OSI determined that criminal charges could not be pursued against the officer.