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City: Man Wrongfully Killed by Cops Had No Rights to Violate

Southaven, Mississippi, wants lawsuit dropped because man was undocumented immigrant
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2019 2:20 PM CDT
This July 28, 2017 photo shows a picture of Ismael Lopez, left, and his wife Claudia, shown to reporters during a news conference in Memphis, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz, file)

(Newser) – Ismael Lopez was in his own Mississippi home in July 2017 when a police officer attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Lopez's neighbor went instead to Lopez's house and fatally shot him. Last year, a grand jury declined to indict the two Southaven police officers involved in the incident, who did not identify themselves when they arrived at Lopez's door. Lopez's family filed a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit in June, and the city of Southaven is now arguing that because Lopez was an undocumented immigrant, the suit should be dismissed, CNN reports. The lawsuit argues that Lopez's Fourth Amendment (protection against unreasonable searches and seizures) and 14th Amendment (equal protections for all citizens) rights were violated, but an attorney for the city filed documents Sept. 4 arguing those protections don't apply to Lopez.

The filing calls Lopez an "illegal alien" who did "not have the same rights as legal or resident aliens," and adds, "If he ever had Fourth Amendment or 14th Amendment civil rights, they were lost by his own conduct and misconduct. Ismael Lopez may have been a person on American soil but he was not one of the 'We, the People of the United States' entitled to the civil rights invoked in this lawsuit." The Commercial Appeal reports Lopez had a criminal record including domestic violence and DUI charges from Washington state in the 1990s; a Mississippi Bureau of Investigation report says he was twice deported to Mexico and returned to the US illegally. The local chapter of the ACLU tells ABC News, "It is well-settled and long-standing law that all persons in the United States, including undocumented immigrants, have the protections of the US Constitution." (Read more wrongful death stories.)

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