An attorney representing a city in Mississippi has filed court documents arguing that an innocent a man shot by police due to a case of mistaken identity, should not be afforded any 4th or 14th Amendment protections due to the fact that he was not a US citizen at the time of the incident.
According to CNN, in July 2017, Ismael Lopez was fatally shot in his mobile home in after officers confused his address with that of a suspect wanted for domestic assault.
Murray Wells, who is serving as legal counsel for Lopez’s family, says an investigation commissioned by his firm confirms Lopez died due to a single bullet to the back of the head. In June, his family filed a $20 million wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court against Southaven, the city’s police chief and any officers involved in Lopez’s death.
But on September 4th the city filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit maintaining that despite the actions of the police Lopez had no Fourth or 14th Amendment protections given he was an “illegal alien” at the time of his death.
The city also noted that Lopez was a convicted felon “for a crime of violence” while in the US, and furthering the case for him to “not have the same rights as legal or resident aliens.”
“If he ever had Fourth Amendment or Fourteenth Amendment civil rights, they were lost by his own conduct and misconduct. Ismael Lopez may have been a person on American soil but he was not one of the ‘We, the People of the United States’ entitled to the civil rights invoked in this lawsuit,” read the motion, concluding, “Federal civil rights are not civil rewards for violating the laws of the United States.”
CNN affiliate WATN reports that Thursday, during a news conference, Wells, the Lopez family attorney, described the city’s argument as “chilling.”
“In an address to a federal judge in an open pleading in court, the city of Southaven has announced that it is their policy that if you are an undocumented resident of that city, you have no constitutional protections,” Wells explained. “Meaning, that storm troopers can come into your house and kill you without regard to any constitutional results or repercussions whatsoever.”
“It’s in direct conflict with the Constitution of the United States, which clearly says under the 14th Amendment line one (that) all persons on United States territories have constitutional rights,” he clarified. “We’re shocked; we do not believe that those arguments are in good faith. We don’t believe they’re founded on any real law whatsoever.”