EXCLUSIVE: Family sues over police cellblock death

EXCLUSIVE: Family sues over police cellblock death
Luis Lopez
Luis Lopez

WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been two years since Luis Lopez died in a police cell block and the Wahiawa man's family is still looking for answers.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court last week, the family's attorney Myles Breiner is accusing Honolulu Police of negligence and even foul play in the 27-year-old mechanic's death.

"Do I think there's a possible cover up? Sure," Breiner said.

"We believe Mr. Lopez was either murdered or if he did commit suicide it was because they failed to provide the proper care and custody of him."

According to the lawsuit, Lopez was arrested for drunk driving around 4 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2012 in Wahiawa. He was booked and placed one of the station's three cellblocks before he was found dead.

The official, police explanation is that he committed suicide.

But friends and family members question that, describing Lopez as a fun-loving and outgoing family man, who had a lot to look forward to.

"None of this seems very plausible," said Breiner.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner ruled that no foul play was involved and that Lopez committed suicide by choking himself with a white shirt.

According to a report by the city Prosecutor's office, Lopez -- who is over six-feet tall and weighted about two-hundred ten pounds -- was sitting down when he tied the shirt to his cell door to hang himself.

But Breiner said Lopez wasn't even wearing that shirt when he was arrested but was wearing a black tank top. He added that it would have been difficult for Lopez to choke himself from a sitting down position.

Breiner questioned whether the soft cotton shirt couldn't have made the thin, wire-like ligature marks that the Medical Examiner's office found around his neck.

"We have no explanation why the police would claim this is suicide especially with a shirt he neither owned or possessed," the attorney said.

Lopez's cellblock was just a few feet away from where on-duty officers worked but none of them saw how Lopez died, the lawyer said.

And Breiner said that none of the surveillance cameras were working that day.

An HPD spokeswoman declined comment.

Lopez's family said they're not suing to get big damages. They only want answers.

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