Fatal police shooting in 2020 Sparks domestic dispute called 'justified'

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The 2020 fatal shooting of Abel Lopez-Lopez by Sparks and Reno police officers was found "legally justified" by the Washoe County District Attorney’s office in a 37-page investigative report released Friday.

Lopez-Lopez’s wife had sought help from police after fearing he might kill her.

Her requests came after a day-long argument that included allegations of inappropriate sexual contact between him and their 7-year-old daughter.

Four shots were fired by three officers within five seconds of entering an apartment belonging to Lopez-Lopez and his wife at Park Vista Apartments on Sparks Boulevard.

According to the investigative report and body cam images, he’d raised a black bag containing a pistol while facing officers. He was hit four times, including once in the head by a shotgun blast.

“In summation, the shooting officers in this case reasonably believed Lopez-Lopez posed an imminent danger that he would kill or cause great bodily injury to” the officers and his wife, the investigative report says.

“The Officers actually and reasonably feared for their own lives and the lives of others, as they had reports that (his wife) was being held hostage and that when they opened the door, Lopez-Lopez was, in fact, armed with a firearm, and he drew it…”

Lopez-Lopez’s wife later told police she had suspected something sexual might be happening with her 7-year-old — one of five children — for several months.

The girl also told a teacher, who immediately reported the abuse to police.

The Sparks Police Department initiated an investigation and began trying to find Lopez-Lopez.

Later that evening, their 16-year-old daughter called 911 to report text messages from her mother that Lopez-Lopez was threatening to kill her.

The string of text messages over two minutes starting at 7:31 that night said: “At 711 now … Abel is with me … And I think he’s trying to kill me … Tell the police … I'm at 711 by the apt … Hurry … Call cops please.”

When asked about weapons in the house, the daughter said he “has a gun.”

Police officers arrived at the apartment and set up outside.

Just before 11 p.m., Lopez-Lopez’s wife opened the door and then quickly slammed it shut, according to the police report. A Sparks police officer tried to kick in the door, failed, then turned the knob and five officers entered.

The first Sparks officer yelled, “show us your hands,” the report says. “Lopez-Lopez responded by raising a black Llama brand .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol from within a black bag.”

Officers fired, hitting him in the right shoulder, right upper arm, right hand and head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Toxicology results showed no drugs or alcohol in his system.

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