Monday, September 12, 2011 at 5:04 p.m.
It won't bring her brother back, but Maria Macias says she thinks she'll feel a little better if she gets to meet the Long Beach police officer who fatally shot her brother, look him in the eye and ask him a question.
"I want to meet the cop and ask him why. Why did he shoot? Did he have a bad day that day?" Macias says, when speaking of the officer-involved shooting last month that left her 29-year-old brother Ismael Lopez dead.
Officers responded to an "unknown trouble" call around 8 p.m. on August 26, according to the Long Beach Police Department
's press release about what led up to the shooting.
As the officers began to approach that scene, they got word of "a group of male Hispanic gang members fighting in front of the Superior Market, a business nearby, and that someone had been shot in the stomach." At that scene, police saw two suspects who allegedly fled from the officers. An officer, whose name hasn't been released, opened fire after one of the suspects did something that made the officer "fear for his safety and/or the safety of the other officers."
One of the bullets entered Lopez's torso and he died at the scene, the press release says, adding that Lopez was not armed.
Macias says her brother was in the area that evening because he heard that a friend of his was in a fight and came to check up on him. She says she's "very disappointed" in the police department. "They haven't called us. They make us feel like my brother was worth nothing. He was a human being."
Doug Kauffman of the Long Beach Campaign to Stop Police Violence says he thinks Lopez's death is indicative of a larger problem. "There are a lot of issues involved that are highlighted by this case. One is the racial profiling in Long Beach. Seeing a bald-headed Latino, the cop immediately thought, 'gang-banger.'"
Macias, who says her brother had no gang affiliation, says she had heard rumblings about the police department in the past, but always dismissed them. "I always try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. I've always given people chances. Now I feel like, 'Wow, everything they said about the Long Beach Police Department is true.'"
Maria Macias, Lopez's sister, at a press conference Friday
Lopez's family, who has filed a civil lawsuit against the Long Beach Police Department, held a press conference on Friday to raise awareness about the case.
Citing the pending litigation and the department's "ongoing investigation" into what happened that night, spokeswoman Lisa Massacani said the Long Beach Police Department has "no new information to release."
Macias says she wants better training for officers and justice for her brother -- something she's made her own mission. "I'm a fighter. They thought they killed some supposed gangster with no family. They have no idea what they're up against. He has a voice and I'm his voice."