Denys Lopez Moreno filed a lawsuit in Federal court last Thursday against the Northside Independent School District of San Antonio, the district’s Chief of Police John Page and Daniel Alvarado for the death of her son.
In the lawsuit, Moreno states that the civil rights of her 14-year-old son, Derek Lopez, were violated in November of last year. Officer Alvarado pursued her son onto the property of a nearby homeowner where the officer shot and killed the unarmed teen.
According to reports, Officer Alvarado saw Lopez punch another student at a school bus stop off-campus. Lopez fled after being asked to freeze and the alleged victim was put in the patrol car.
Against his supervisor’s wishes, Alvarado sped off in his patrol unit in pursuit of Lopez, according to dispatch recordings. A neighbor witnessed Lopez hurdling a fence and hide in the shed in the back yard. When the resident dialed 911 and told a neighbor, the neighbor ultimately led Alvarado to Lopez with his firearm drawn.
No one actually witnessed the shooting, but the suit states that Alvarado charged to the shed, swung the door open and opened fire.
In a police report, Alvarado wrote that the door flew open, striking him in the face, however no one other than himself can recall seeing any facial injuries on the officer after the shooting.
Alvarado went on to write “the suspect bull rushed his way out of the shed and lunged right at me. The suspect was literally inches away from me, and I feared for my safety.” Now that suspect, a 14-year-old boy, is dead.
According to the autopsy, the bullet went into the Lopez’s chest and ricocheted off his pancreas, colon, right liver and left kidney and exited the teen’s stomach.
Contrary to Alvarado’s report, the autopsy notes the lack of gunpowder on Lopez’s bloody shirt and concluded that “there was no evidence of close range firing of the wound.”
Lopez fought for his life for nearly an hour before passing away.
At school, Lopez was regularly in trouble. He was in and out of alternative schools and the county’s juvie system. According to school officials he had been reprimanded in the past for drug possession, theft and assault.
Lopez wasn’t the only individual with a troublesome past, however.
Officer Alvarado had been reprimanded 16 times in the past four years, suspended without pay five times and almost fired for insubordination. Even still, the school insisted on keeping him in uniform.
Pascual Gonzalez, and NISD spokesman, released a statement saying, “We are aware of Officer Alvarado’s work history. While there are some documented incidents, it’s important to note that they were administrative in nature and had nothing to do with student safety.”
The student’s parent told the San Antonio Express News that the NISD “should’ve taken action a long time ago” with Officer Alvarado.
“He never followed orders. What makes you think he can deal with children?” asked Denys Lopez Moreno.
Since the incident, Moreno claims the district has failed to train its officers on procedures regarding off-campus criminal activity, use of weapons, use of force and communication with other law enforcement agencies.
The mother of the teenage boy seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, supervisory liability and negligence.
Moreno claims if the officer had obeyed his order to stay with the victim at the bus stop, her son would still be alive.