SAN DIEGO – A San Diego police SWAT officer acted reasonably when he fatally shot a gang member sought for violating parole, a federal jury decided Tuesday.
Jurors found that Officer Kristopher Walb acted in defense of himself and his fellow officers when he shot Angel Lopez in January 2013.
Lopez fled from SWAT officers responding to a tip of a potential hostage involving Lopez and other gang members, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
Officers had information that Lopez, a parolee at large, was involved in a drug cartel and was armed and dangerous, prosecutors said.
While being pursued into an apartment stairwell and hallway, Lopez did not follow orders to surrender, but instead reached into his pocket while turning toward officers, prompting Walk to fire on him, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, drug bindles, a box cutter, handcuff keys and a syringe were found in Lopez’s pockets. Methamphetamine and opiates were found in the decedent’s system, according to toxicology reports.
Lopez’s family sued the city of San Diego and Officer Walb, alleging excessive force, wrongful death and violation of the decedent’s constitutional right to association, among other things.
Most of the claims were dismissed prior to trial, according to the City Attorney’s Office.