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New York attorney general to investigate fatal Suffolk County police-involved shooting last week

New York state Attorney General Letitia James at an August press conference. Her office is investigating the practices of the Trump Organization.
Kathy Willens
New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the death of a Medford man killed by Suffolk County police last Wednesday.

Three unnamed police officers responded to a call at an apartment complex where 56-year-old Enrique Lopez was reportedly threatening his roommate with a fire extinguisher.

When the officers approached Lopez, he stabbed two of them with a knife. The officers then shot Lopez, killing him.

Lopez previously assaulted an officer in 2011 and was sentenced to two years in prison.

One officer suffered serious injuries to his clavicle and groin, but is expected to recover at Stony Brook University Hospital. The other officer was stabbed through his bulletproof vest close to his heart, but was released from the hospital last week.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison called the incident a “justified shooting.”

“You have an individual who lunges at police officers, within a close proximity,” Harrison said outside the hospital last week. “He actually committed the act of stabbing the officers. It doesn’t seem like the officers had any other action but to use their weapons to stop the force, to stop anybody else from being stabbed.”

James will conduct an investigation to determine if the officers acted correctly.

According to state law, the Office of Special Investigation must “investigate and, if warranted, prosecute any alleged criminal offense or offenses committed by a person, whether or not formally on duty, who is a police officer … or a peace officer … concerning any incident in which the death of a person, whether in custody or not, is caused by an act or omission.”

In 2022, the office reported 22 police-involved shootings, resulting in the death of a person. Only six of those incidents have been investigated and closed, while 16 remain under investigation. Nineteen people killed by police officers were armed while three were unarmed. A majority of people killed by police were white. Eight others were Black, four were Hispanic, and one was Asian. Eighteen of these deaths were male and four were female.

Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.