The Greensboro Police Department has released the body camera footage of an officer involved shooting which took place in 2021. The shooting, which took place on November 21st, unfolded after Joseph Lopez’ girlfriend called police.
Greensboro police had outstanding warrants for Lopez following a prior incident days earlier whereby Lopez had barricaded himself in the home located on Cloverdale Drive. The homeowner called police as well, to say someone was trying to get inside the home. That incident was resolved peacefully.
When Greensboro police arrived on scene, K9 officer M.E. Hamilton approached a storage shed where it was believed Lopez had holed up. “Come on out with your hands up...he’ll bite you!” Hamilton exclaimed. Over the next three hours or more, Lopez, Hamilton and Greensboro police attempted to coerce Lopez to come out of the shed.
Towards the end of the standoff, Hamilton eventually released the German Shepherd to attempt to gain control of the unsubmissive suspect. By our estimate, less than 3 seconds transpired from the time Officer Hamilton began to enter the shed, following the K9, before Hamilton fired one shot at Lopez, killing him instantly.
An internal investigation into the shooting took place, which led to manslaughter charges being fired against Officer Hamilton, who had already been fired before charges were filed. Lopez’ family subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against Hamilton, the Greensboro PD, as well as the city of Greensboro.
Hamilton can be heard telling fellow officers he believed Lopez had a weapon in his hands, although no weapon was found on or near the suspect’s body. Other officers attempted to give first aid to the shooting victim, even extricating the man from the storage shed, but it was to no avail. Mr. Lopez died on the scene.
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Following an extensive investigation with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), criminal charges were recommended and later the district attorney decided to charge Hamilton with manslaughter.
In the body camera footage worn by the officer in question, Officer Hamilton can be heard defending his actions. “I saw something in his hands!” Hamilton remarked in defense of his actions. Hamilton was released on a 100,000 dollar bond and will be tried for the death of Mr. Lopez. Lawyers for the family are seeking justice in the form of a monetary settlement.
Hamilton’s lawyer claims the now former officer was acting within his training and the regulations governing officers for the Greensboro Police Department. “Officer Hamilton was acting totally within North Carolina law and as he has been trained in accordance with Greensboro Police Department standards, and the standards of Basic Law Enforcement Training, and yet for doing his job, he's been indicted with a serious felony," said his lawyer Rossabi.
Lawyers’ for Mr. Lopez’ family countered saying, “The reality is that Joseph Lopez was sitting terrified in a chair fifteen feet away from Hamilton when Hamilton first sicked his dog on him and then within seconds without announcing any intent to use force, fired and hit Joseph Lopez right smack in the face.”
The case against former officer Matthew Hamilton will now go to trial. But as TFTP has reported on numerous occasions, police officers tend to garner the support of sympathetic juries and rarely send police officers who discharge their weapons in the line of duty to prison for killing anyone.