Relatives of two men killed at the hands of Metropolitan Police Department officers have filed separate civil rights lawsuits in federal court.
But the complaint filed this week on behalf of his mother states that Lopez “reached down and attempted to push the handgun further away from him in order to comply with the officers’ demands. At no time did Junior David Lopez yell at the officers to ‘shoot him.’ ”
A separate lawsuit was filed on behalf of the father of Nicholas Farah, 36, who died a year ago after four officers put him into a restraint chair, intended to control uncooperative inmates, and held his head to his knees for 75 seconds at the Clark County Detention Center.
Metro spokesman Larry Hadfield said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
The Clark County coroner’s office ruled Farah’s death a homicide. Asphyxia during restraining procedures was the primary cause of his death.
Prosecutors determined that none of the officers involved in either death would be charged with crimes.
Farah’s lawsuit names the department, corrections sergeants Richard Newman and Samuel Mendoza; corrections officers Aaron Mosely, Jeremy Stewart and Christy Snapp; officer Gabriel Villanueva; and jail EMTs Kim Soffe and Collin Petrielius.
The suit was filed Wednesday by lawyers from Reno, Seattle and Chicago. It alleges excessive force, failure to intervene and a violation of Farah’s constitutional rights.
Farah was arrested at La Quinta hotel at 4975 S. Valley View Blvd., near West Tropicana Avenue, after hotel managers asked to have him removed from the property.
Police said he became “agitated” while officers tried putting him into a patrol car to bring him to jail.
“LVMPD encourages officers like those here to use positional force when placing detainees in restraint chairs, despite the obvious risk of substantial harm or death caused by such actions,” the suit alleges. “Mr. Farah suffered through the agony of being suffocated to death, and the tragic fact he could do nothing to stop the officers from choking him or to force others to intervene.”
In Lopez’s case, he was stopped for reckless driving in the early morning hours of April 6, 2018, near Charleston and Nellis boulevards.
Immediately after he exited his car, a handgun fell to the ground. Officers repeatedly told Lopez to stay away from the gun, but he dropped to his knees near the firearm, body camera video showed. The gun had five rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, police said.
Lopez’s toxicology indicated that at the time of his death he had a blood alcohol content of 0.17 percent, twice the legal limit, according to police.
Lopez, 22, had applied twice to join the Metropolitan Police Department, and had been scheduled to take a written exam before he died, his fiancee told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last year.
The complaint related to his death was filed Tuesday by Las Vegas attorneys L. DiPaul Marrero II and Robert Vannah.
It alleges negligence, assault and battery, and a violation of Lopez’s constitutional rights. It was filed against the department, Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and Francisco Rivera and Padilla Mills, the officers identified as firing the fatal shots.