Suit alleges police 'assassinated' man
September 14, 2006 (WLS) -- A year ago Emmanuel Lopez was shot and killed during a traffic stop on the city's Southwest Side. Now his family is suing the city and a dozen police officers claiming Lopez was essentially executed and the incident was covered up.
The police department insists the officers acted in self defense. The lawsuit claims police fired 42 shots at Lopez hitting him sixteen times. The officers say they opened fire only after Lopez drove into them.
Chicago police say it was justified. Thursday, the mourning family of an immigrant from Mexico is suing the city for at least $20 million.
The family of 23-year-old Emmanuel Lopez filed a wrongful death lawsuit suit and conspiracy civil lawsuit against the City of Chicago and 12 Chicago police officers. They blame them for his death.
"In essence, our lawsuit alleges that this man was executed by Chicago police officers," said Tery Ekl, attorney for the family.
Lopez was driving to work at a food manufacturing company, where he was a janitor, in the 4500-block of Adams September 16 last year. His attorney says he passed one of the officers who was off-duty at the time. The suit alleges Lopez stopped in an alley and was shot 16 times by four police officers at 37th Place and Kedzie.
"The off-duty officer, Pedro Solis, fired through the sunroof of the Lopez vehicle repeatedly and in essence assassinated or executed him," said Ekl.
The police department believes the officers were justified in shooting Lopez. They claim that Lopez allegedly struck one of the officers with his car and trapped another police officer under the vehicle.
"At that time, when he continued to spin his tires, the officers, fearing for the officer's life under the car, fired, killing him," said Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline. "The M.E. did a blood-alcohol content, and this individual was 3.5 times the level for being legally intoxicated."
The suit also claims officers fired 40 shots and other officers participated in a cover-up during an internal investigation.
Lopez's aunt, who he was living with at the time, says her nephew, who had been living as an illegal immigrant in the U.S. for six months, was a hard working young man who was sending money back home to his family in Mexico.
"He was very hard-working, went from work to home and home to work," said Ana Lopez, Emmanuel's aunt.
The police department says the shooting complied with state law and police policy, and regardless of Thursday's lawsuit announcement, Ana Lopez says she will not rest until justice prevails, saying Emmanuel did not have to die the way he did.
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