In a victory for the LAPD and a crushing loss for a mother, a judge threw out the case of a woman who was suing police for killing her toddler with a stray bullet during a hostage showdown. This is a very complicated case, and I’m surprised it was decided so quickly.
On the day her daughter was killed, Lorena Lopez remembers that she begged police to negotiate with the gunman who was holding her daughter hostage, rather than shooting.
“I was on my knees begging to protect Suzie, not to shoot inside, and nobody listened to me,” she said. “Today, the judge did not listen to me.”
The gunman was Raul Pena, the father of Lopez’s 19-month-old daughter, who had appeared calm and collected when he came to pick up his daughter for a visit earlier in the day. But a few hours later, he was outside his car dealership, a gun in one hand and his daughter in the other. Hopped up on alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine, he was firing the gun and threatening to kill everybody. When a SWAT team attempted to rescue the toddler, gunfire was exchanged, with a bullet hitting the child between the eyes.
Lopez filed suit against the city, contending that they too quickly resorted to weapons. But the LAPD says blame for the death lies solely with Pena, who gave police no option but to shoot. We’ll never know whether Lopez has a point or is simply desperate for some restitution for the death of her daughter, since a judge denied lawyers on both sides the opportunity to make their arguments.
Do you think Pena should have been given the chance to argue her case?
Photo: Los Angeles Times