Saturday, May 28, 2011

Derek Lopez, eighth grader, shot dead by cop, Daniel Alvorado, after "scaring the officer"

Between March 2006 and November 2010, Officer Daniel Alvarado of San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District Police was suspended four times. Four times he was informed by supervisors that he faced “immediate termination.” For some reason, when it came time to fire Alvarado, his superiors just couldn’t bring themselves to pull the trigger. Alvarado displayed no similar scruples on November 12, 2010, when he murdered 14-year-old Derek Lopez, who had just taken part in a brief scuffle with another student.

Owing to his own troubled past, Lopez was a student at the Bexar County Juvenile Justice Academy. At around 4:30 PM on the fatal day, Lopez sucker-punched a 13-year-old classmate at a bus stop.

“He just hit me once,” the student later recalled in a sworn deposition. “It wasn’t a fight. It was nothing.”

Unfortunately, Alvarado happened to be prowling the intersection in his patrol car, and witnessed the trivial dust-up.

“Freeze!” Alvarado shouted at Lopez, who bolted from the scene. Alvarado, in his mid-40s, briefly gave token pursuit before relating the first of several self-serving falsehoods.

“I just had one run from me,” wheezed the winded tax-feeder. “I saw an assault in progress. He punched the guy several times.” (Emphasis added.)

A supervisor instructed Alvarado “not [to] do any big search over there” in pursuit of the assailant. “Let’s stay with the victim and see if we can identify [the suspect] that way.”

Rather than doing as he was ordered, Alvarado bundled the “victim” — who was probably more terrified of the armed functionary than of his obnoxious classmate — into the patrol car and went in pursuit of Lopez.

Lopez vaulted a nearby fence and hid in a backyard shed containing Christmas decorations. The homeowner saw the intrusion, and a neighbor flagged down Alvarado’s patrol car. The officer drew his gun “when he came up the driveway,” recalled the homeowner. Within a minute or so, a single gunshot resonated through the neighborhood. When asked by the horrified homeowner what had happened, Alvarado — who reportedly looked “dazed or distant” — replied that Lopez “came at me.”

“The suspect bull rushed his way out of the shed and lunged right at me,” the timorous creature later claimed in an official report. “The suspect was literally inches away from me, and I feared for my own safety.”(Emphasis added.)

Alvarado was lying, of course. An autopsy revealed “no evidence of close range firing [on] the wound,” and no gunpowder stains were found on the victim’s bloody t-shirt. (read more)