LAUGHLIN — A fact-finding review of an officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of a man who attempted to rob two Laughlin casinos a year ago will be held Monday.
The review is mandatory following any police-involved death in cases where the district attorney’s office makes a preliminary determination that no criminal prosecution of the involved officers is appropriate.
Michael Lopez, 69, of Lake Havasu City, was shot to death in the parking lot of a Laughlin casino after a standoff with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department SWAT and Crisis Negotiation Team members.
During Monday’s review, which will take place at 9 a.m. in the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas, representatives of the district attorney’s office will make a presentation of essential facts in the case, including witness statements, bodycam video and other material. After the DA’s presentation, Hearing Officer Spencer Judd and an ombudsman may ask questions intended to make public relevant information about the use of force in the incident that occurred Aug. 19, 2019.
Members of the public observing the review may submit proposed written questions to the presiding officer on forms available at the review. At the end of the review, no formal determination about the manner or cause of death will be rendered.
According to Metro reports on the incident, Lopez was shot after moving toward SWAT officers with a gun pointed in their direction. Officers had been talking to him for several hours, trying to convince him to surrender peacefully after he barricaded himself inside his vehicle following two failed robbery attempts. He was struck by several rounds and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The incident began in the early hours of Aug. 19 when Lopez entered a Laughlin casino, showed his firearm to a cashier at the casino cage and demanded money. The cashier refused the request and Lopez left the building.
About a half-hour later, he entered another casino, approached the cashier’s cage and placed his handgun on the counter and demanded money. Again, his demand was refused and Lopez left the building.
A security officer was notified of the robbery attempt and followed Lopez outside the casino. Lopez, apparently aware he was being pursued, turned and fired a single shot toward the security guard. No one was injured.
Lopez made his way to the parking lot of a casino and isolated himself in his pickup truck. Arriving officers from the Laughlin Metro station blocked him in with their vehicles and began communicating with Lopez with a bullhorn.
SWAT and the Crisis Negotiating Team members arrived and took over the scene, trying for several hours to get Lopez to surrender. He got out of his vehicle, then suddenly pulled his gun and moved toward the officers, who responded by shooting him.
The shooting already has been the subject of reviews by the Metro Force Investigation Team and the Critical Incident Review Team.