Local News

Wednesday, Oct 31 2012 05:39 PM

Police: Man shot, killed by officer fired first

  1. 1 of 8

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Cynthia Soltero demonstrates what she saw when a Bakersfield police officer shot and killed Jonathan Lopez in an alley between Niles and Monterey Streets after a brief chase

    click to expand click to collapse
  2. 2 of 8

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Bakersfield police re-enact part of the chase in east Bakersfield where eventually an officer would shoot and kill 2- year-old Jonathan Lopez in an alley between Monterey and Niles streets.

    click to expand click to collapse
  3. 3 of 8

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Twelve-year-old Humberto Morales stops to place Skittles candy at the site of a makeshift memorial for his cousin, 28-year-old Jonathan Lopez , who was shot and killed by a Bakersfield police officer in an alley off Miller Street between Monterey and Niles streets.

    click to expand click to collapse
  4. 4 of 8

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Cynthia Soltero demonstrates what she saw when a Bakersfield police officer shot and killed Jonathan Lopez in an alley between Niles and Monterey streets after a brief chase.

    click to expand click to collapse
  5. 5 of 8

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Witness Cynthia Soltero said a Bakersfield police officer shot Jonathan Lopez eight times after a brief chase in east Bakersfield.

    click to expand click to collapse
  6. 6 of 8

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Bakersfield police investigators returned to the scene in an alley off Miller Street between Monterey and Niles streets where a BPD officer shot and killed 28-year-old Jonathan Lopez Tuesday evening.

    click to expand click to collapse
  7. 7 of 8

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Princess Smith points to the area in an alley between Monterey and Niles streets where a Bakersfield police officer shot and killed Jonathan Lopez.

    click to expand click to collapse
  8. 8 of 8

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Detective Jorge Gomez read a statement from the Bakersfield Police identifying Officer Keith Cason as the officer involved in the shooting on Oct. 30 that killed 28-year-old Jonathan Lopez. It also stated the firearm Lopez was carrying at the time has been recovered.

    click to expand click to collapse
BY REBECCA KHEEL Californian staff writer rkheel@bakersfield.com

Bakersfield Police on Wednesday released new information about a Tuesday evening officer-involved shooting that upset a community and about which few details had been provided.

In a series of revelations that seemed to paint the fatal police shooting as justified, the BPD said:

* The suspect was indeed armed. He had thrown away his gun during the chase and it was later found by police.

* The suspect, while being chased by the officer, had fired first.

The BPD also defended an almost 24-hour period in which basic details of the incident had not been released to the public.

"This was a large crime scene, and it was a very complicated crime scene with numerous witnesses," Lt. Jorge Gomez said at a hastily-convened evening news conference.

Some neighbors continued Wednesday to question why the man had been shot. They said he continued to be shot even while he was on the ground.

The fleeing suspect was identified Wednesday by the coroner's office as Jonathan Lopez, 28. The officer was identified as Keith Cason, who has been with the department for four years and who had previously shot someone.

The incident began at about 4:55 p.m. Tuesday, according to this police account provided by Gomez:

Lopez was walking near Pacific and Miller streets when Cason saw him holding a handgun. Cason, believing Lopez had either just committed a crime or was about to, exited his patrol car and ordered Lopez to stop. Lopez ran, and Cason chased him.

The two ran through an apartment complex and came out on Niles Street. Once on Niles, Lopez turned and shot at Cason, who was not hit.

Cason returned fire, but Lopez continued to run. The pursuit headed into an alley off Miller between Monterey and Niles streets. Cason again ordered Lopez to stop.

"He continued to ignore his commands. In turn, Officer Cason again fired at Lopez, who at that point stopped fleeing," Gomez said.

Gomez said it's too early in the investigation to say how many times Lopez was shot or where on his body he was hit because forensics aren't complete. He also said it is too early to say if Lopez was standing upright or was on the ground in the alley.

Officers performed CPR on Lopez until paramedics arrived. Lopez was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he died.

Investigators found the discarded gun in the possession of Edna Diaz, 43, whose connection to Lopez is unknown. She had taken the gun and hid it, Gomez said. Officers arrested her on suspicion of concealing material evidence and accessory to attempted murder.

Detectives returned to the scene Wednesday afternoon to recreate what happened. Officers acted out the scene, with one narrating. Others watched and took notes.

The investigation did not find to be true Cason's belief that Lopez had just committed or was about to a crime, Gomez said.

Lopez had an extensive criminal history that included violent crime, Gomez said, but he did not provide details. Lopez was out on post-release supervision under realignment, California's prison reform effort.

Cason is on routine paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Cason's previous shooting was in May 2011. Cason shot a spousal abuse suspect three times. Cason believed the man was brandishing a gun, but it turned out to be a cellphone that the suspect was holding to look like a gun, police said at the time.

BPD's Critical Incident Review Board cleared Cason of wrongdoing in that case.

Witnesses' version

In the Lopez shooting, several neighbors differed with the BPD account of what took place. Some said Lopez was unarmed and on the ground when Cason shot him.

Beverly Grayson and Kayvion Brown both said they were sitting on the balcony of their apartment complex when they saw a police car pull up on Miller between Oregon and Niles streets. Lopez was just standing there, they said. Cason exited his car with his gun drawn, and Lopez ran, they said.

Cason started shooting almost immediately after he got out of the car, Brown said.

"I'd take off too if someone was shooting at me," Grayson said.

Cason shot once and Lopez continued running, Brown said. Lopez ran through an apartment complex, Diplomat Apartments, which was across the street from where Brown was. Cason shot at Lopez a second time in the apartment complex. Brown said he saw Lopez stumbling after that shot. But Lopez continued running to the alley.

"That's where they finished him off," Brown said.

Cynthia Soltero was parked in the alley waiting for her 19-year-old daughter to come out of their apartment. She saw Lopez try to climb over a fence to get to the alley. As he was climbing, Cason shot him in his leg, Soltero said.

"He was screaming, 'I don't have no gun,'" Soltero said.

After he was shot in the leg, Lopez fell on the ground and laid there like he was giving up, Soltero said. But Cason continued to shoot Lopez, she said.

"Stop, stop, you're killing him," she said she yelled at Cason.

Princess Smith came out of her apartment, which faces the alley, after she heard three shots. She described the same sequence of events as Soltero -- Lopez hopping the fence, getting shot, falling down, giving up and continuing to get shot. She said she saw blood coming from his mouth.

After Cason was done shooting, Smith said, he handcuffed Lopez, "like he was going to get up and run, but he was already dead," she said.

Smith said that she had no doubt that Lopez was unarmed at the point Cason shot him.

"He had his hands up," she said. "If you can mistake hands up and open for a weapon, then you need to get your eyes checked because he had no weapon."

A memorial to Lopez was set up in the alley by Wednesday. Candles surrounded a 40-ounce bottle of Old English and other mementos.

Humberto Moales, Lopez's 12-year-old cousin, stopped by to leave Skittles, which he said the two ate together.

Moales was leaving the candy so that Lopez "can't forget about me," he said.

Moales said Lopez was close with all his family. The two spent time together every day, joking around and play fighting, Moales said.

"Never let go of your family," Moales said.

Bakersfield.com Daily Deal!

Stylz MMA

Daily Deal

$20 of Merchandise for $10 from Stylz MMA

Value
$20
% Off
50%
You Save
$10
0 Bought
Buy Now! See more deals