Family blames police, sheriff's office for death of Hockley County man
LEVELLAND, TX (KCBD) -
The family of 30-year-old Jason Lopez and their attorneys from the Texas Civil Rights project held a press conference Monday regarding the death of Lopez in November of last year.
They revealed a video containing surveillance footage of his arrest and transport into the Hockley County Jail.
Lopez entered a Stripes convenience store in Levelland while in, what is believed to be, a state of hallucination. Hockley County District Attorney Christopher Dennis says he was disrupting business, so police were called to the scene.
He was later transported to the Hockley County Jail where he lost consciousness. From there, he was taken to Covenant Medical Center where he later died.
A Lubbock County Medical Examiner has ruled his death a homicide. Cause of death is said to be excited delirium with physical altercation. The autopsy also revealed drugs in his system.
In June, a Hockley County Grand Jury declined to indict three Levelland police officers for the death of Lopez.
Lopez's family hopes that the video will reveal what really happened to the public. They say the immediate action taken by police at the store is the start of what went wrong.
They believe a yellow object seen in an officer's hand indicates that a Taser was used by a representative of the Hockley County Sheriff's Office. They point out no video is seen from the cell where Lopez was detained, raising questions about what happened in there.
"If they had just calmed him down, reassured him he was safe and not used the force that they did and thrown him down immediately, I think my brother would still be here today," Lopez’s sister Yvonne Mario said.
"This raises the awareness of what is missing and calls to the attention of investigators or the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office that these things are necessary for this family to put a close to this," Family Attorney Audie Reese said.
Hockley County District Attorney Christopher Dennis says the video was seen by the grand jury and that he was in contact with the family attorney. He adds that two potential witnesses were also contacted.
"With the awareness, we hope that further investigations do occur and that another family doesn't have to go through this," Mario said. "I think at this point we are just happy that we got to tell some of the truths because of the lies that had been printed. We are grateful for that, and that is where we are at today."
The Levelland City attorney said their sympathies are with the family, but he believes the police department did nothing wrong.