RENO, Nev. (WCDAO / Press Release) – On February 13th, 2020, Abel Lopez-Lopez (“Lopez-Lopez”) and his wife S.L. became involved in a day-long argument, precipitated by allegations of inappropriate sexual contact between Lopez-Lopez and one of S.L.’s younger children. S.L.’s 7-year-old daughter had reported the sexual abuse the day before, which S.L. would later tell police she had begun to suspect several months prior. The child victim reported the same abuse to a teacher, who immediately reported the abuse to police.
The Sparks Police Department (SPD) then initiated an investigation into the allegations against Lopez-Lopez and made unsuccessful attempts to reach S.L. throughout the day. Later in the evening, SPD patrol officers and other area law enforcement officers were alerted to a possible hostage situation, after S.L.’s 16-year-old daughter (T.G.) called 911 after receiving text messages from S.L., saying that Lopez-Lopez was threatening to kill S.L. Specifically, T.G. reported that S.L. had relayed to her that Lopez-Lopez was armed with a gun, was holding her against her will, and was going kill her, himself, or have someone kill her. Responding officers were updated with the information that Lopez-Lopez was believed to be armed with a firearm, as T.G. had reported in her 911 call that Lopez-Lopez had placed a pistol on the dash of the vehicle S.L. and Lopez-Lopez were driving in, and that Lopez-Lopez was reported to always carry a pistol with him.
Initially, SPD officers were dispatched to locate S.L. and Lopez-Lopez at the Sparks Nugget Casino, where S.L. was reportedly staying temporarily after learning about the alleged sexual abuse of her child. However, after a check of the casino failed to locate S.L., SPD officers then conducted an emergency phone ping in an effort to locate S.L.’s phone. The resulting information showed the phone to be in an area north of the Park Vista Apartments. Officers also learned from T.G. that S.L. had messaged her the address of an apartment belonging to the couple, which they rented as a second residence. This information eventually led officers to 565 Sparks Boulevard #197, the Park Vista Apartments.
Based on the phone ping and T.G’s information, SPD officers were dispatched to the Park Vista Apartments at approximately 1958 hours. Having heard the call of a possible armed hostage situation, Reno Police Department (RPD) Regional Gang Unit officers (RGU) also responded. The first officers on scene were able to confirm that Lopez-Lopez had leased apartment number 197 and began to formulate a response plan.
Once on scene, a group of officers, including SPD officers and RPD officers assigned to RGU took up a position near the apartment door. Supervisors and officers on scene considered the situation an active hostage situation and established an Emergency Action Team (E.A.T.). The team initially consisted of SPD Officer Dustin Beauford (Officer Beauford), SPD Officer Brett Zolkos (Officer Zolkos), and RPD Officer Chris Rose (Officer Rose). This three-man team were staged at the door of the apartment approximately 10 minutes after arriving on scene. A short time later, SPD Officer Bryan Yee (Officer Yee) and SPD Officer Daniel Jones (Officer Jones) joined the E.A.T. Officers Beauford, Zolkos and Rose were all members of their respective agency’s Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) Teams.
While staged at the door, the officers tried to gather intelligence by listening for sounds of violence, and trying to determine how many people were inside the apartment. Officers were concerned that if sounds of violence were heard, or other circumstances presented a threat, they needed to be able to affect a hostage rescue and contact Lopez-Lopez. As they remained at the door, several officers reported hearing sounds in the kitchen, including a male coughing, a female’s voice, and people talking aggressively, but no sounds of violence.
At approximately 2055 hours, while the officers were still staged, S.L. abruptly opened the door, then quickly slammed it shut. Officer Beauford responded to this immediately and yelled, “Sparks Police” while also trying to kick the door open. He was not successful, but quickly turned the knob and opened the door. He then entered the apartment, followed by Officers Jones, Rose, Yee, and Zolkos respectively.
Once inside, the officers saw S.L., who raised her hands and moved away from the officers and into the kitchen. Lopez-Lopez was initially directly behind S.L. as the officers cleared the doorway, and Officer Beauford yelled “show us your hands,” as other officers moved into the apartment. Lopez-Lopez responded by raising a black Llama brand .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol from within a black bag, and appeared to square his body into a shooting stance in front of Officer Beauford before moving towards S.L.
In a confrontation that lasted approximately five seconds from entry to the final shot, Officers Beauford, Jones, and Rose each discharged their firearms after perceiving threats to themselves, the other officers, and S.L. Officer Beauford fired two rounds from his patrol rifle, and Officer Jones fired one round from his service pistol. These rounds struck Lopez-Lopez in the right shoulder, through his chest, right upper arm, and right hand. Following this, Officer Rose fired one round from his 12-gauge shotgun, striking Lopez-Lopez in the left side of his head.
Immediately after the shots, officers grabbed S.L. and rushed her out of the apartment. She was ultimately transported to Renown Emergency Medical Center for further evaluation and treatment. This was based on her claim that Lopez-Lopez had poisoned her. Lopez-Lopez was pronounced deceased on scene.
Consistent with the regionally adopted Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) Protocol, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) was assigned as the lead investigative agency, with RPD being assigned as the secondary investigating agency. All investigation reports, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Division (FIS) forensic service reports, photographs, and recorded evidence and interviews were then submitted to the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office on February 19, 2021 to determine whether the shooting of Lopez-Lopez was legally justified under Nevada Law. No criminal charges against the involved officers were recommended by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.
The District Attorney’s evaluation included reviewing more than 1000 of pages of reports and documents, interviews of police and civilian witnesses, photographs, body-worn camera footage, and an examination of the scene of the shooting.
Based on the available evidence and the applicable legal authorities, it is the opinion of the District Attorney that the shooting of Abel Lopez-Lopez by SPD Officers Dustin Beauford, Daniel Jones, and RPD Officer Chris Rose was not a criminal act.
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