Family of Wahiawa man who died in police jail cell seeks answers - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Family of Wahiawa man who died in police jail cell seeks answers

Luis and Christina Lopez Luis and Christina Lopez
Christina Lopez Christina Lopez
Injury on Luis Lopez' forehead Injury on Luis Lopez' forehead
Luis Lopez' neck injuries Luis Lopez' neck injuries
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The widow of a Wahiawa man who died in a police jail cell talks for the first time about her husband's death.

Christina Lopez sued the Honolulu Police Department more than a year ago, saying police didn't give her a clear explanation as to how her husband wound up dead in his holding cell after a drunk driving arrest. Luis Lopez, a 27-year-old mechanic and father of two, died in January 2012.

"After three years and still no answers. There's something wrong here," said Lopez.

"Why would somebody who just has a newborn want to commit suicide over a traffic stop. It doesn't add up."

The medical examiner ruled the death a suicide and police did conduct an internal investigation. But family members said there were gaps in those reports and they suspect a cover-up if not worse.

They noted that the cell block at the Wahiawa Police station has video cameras but none were working that day.

Lopez said her husband also had a deep gash on his forehead when he was found. Police said Luis got injured after he banged his head on the plexiglas divider in a police car.

But his wife said the injury looked like he got hit by a harder object.

And then there's the shirt he wore that day. Police said he strangled himself with this white long-sleeved t-shirt but Christina Lopez said he didn't own a white shirt and that he wore a black shirt the day he died.

She also pointed to marks on his neck, which seems to indicate he was choked by a thinner, harder cord and not a white cotton shirt.

"I believe there was excessive force," she said.

A wrongful death lawsuit against HPD has been filed but no word on when it will go to trial.

"The sad part is that this whole thing has been white washed by HPD professional standards office," said attorney Myles Breiner, who represents the Lopez family.

"The report in this case was bare bones, essentially exonerating the Police Department of any misconduct."

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