Attorneys for man killed by police blast ‘ludicrous’ stance made by Southaven

Updated: Sep. 26, 2019 at 11:22 AM CDT
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SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (WMC) - The attorneys for Ismael Lopez’s family are calling out the City of Southaven’s defense in the case.

Lopez was shot and killed by Southaven police officers at his home in 2017. His family has since filed a federal lawsuit against the city and police department. Officers were serving a warrant for someone else and went to the wrong house on the day Lopez was killed.

A document filed by the City of Southaven Tuesday questions Lopez’s constitutional rights as an undocumented immigrant. It reads in part:

Ismael Lopez had no Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment civil rights as alleged in the Complaint. There is no jurisdiction based on the absence of any legally recognized relationship of Ismael Lopez with the United States at the time of his death. In the alternative, there is no standing by either Plaintiff due to the illegal alien status of Lopez at the time of his death in tandem with his insufficient connections with the United States of the type, dignity, and caliber required for standing.

Lopez’s family attorneys Murray Wells and Aaron Neglia responded to the filing, calling the policy “ludicrous.”

Wells said the approach was unlike any city has ever taken.

“The city announced their policy is that undocumented residents have no constitutional protection,” Wells said.

Wells argues that stance is in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution and said the Supreme Court has constantly backed that up.

“This is an attempt to chip away at our constitution,” Wells said.

Wells said their argument is not founded on any real law. He argues that any person on U.S. soil has rights as laid out by the constitution, including the fourth amendment, and that they are not limited to just U.S. citizens.

Wells said using their justification, “Stormtroopers can kill you without any [...] repercussions.”

Civil rights lawyer Mike Carr said Lopez’s widow has had to jump through hoops to prove to Southaven that the two were married. Wells said the two were legally married in Crittenden County, Arkansas and lived in their Southaven neighborhood for 16 years.

Carr argued that Southaven’s logic means anyone who is not a citizen is “nothing more than a dog” in their eyes.

The lawsuit, filed by Lopez’s widow earlier this year, says Lopez was wrongfully and unconstitutionally killed by police.

Police said Lopez pointed a gun at them when they knocked on the door. An autopsy shows Lopez was shot in the back of the head. The officers involved were not indicted by a grand jury last year.

“This case should have never been here in the first place,” Wells said. “If it was an accident, they should have taken the blame for it.”

Wells said the family has remained strong while being “dragged through the mud” and they just want justice.

The federal lawsuit is seeking $20 million. City officials said they are ready to "vigorously defend our officers and city in a court of law."

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite reiterated that in a statement Thursday afternoon.

As I’ve stated before, the City of Southaven will defend this matter in the court of law, not in the media via press conferences with ridiculously-misleading sound bites. A federal judge will consider actual prior federal case law presented by the City’s attorney in this case. Our officers were not indicted by a Desoto Grand Jury and cleared by the FBI and Department of Justice and the City will continue to vigorously defend them and itself in this civil matter anxiously awaiting all facts being exposed.

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