Judge Denies Qualified Immunity to Officers for Hog-Tying Man Who Later Died

A federal judge in Phoenix has ruled against granting qualified immunity to seven officers involved in the 2020 death of Ramon Timothy Lopez. The case stemmed from an encounter that led to Lopez passing away after being restrained on hot asphalt, hogtied, and then placed face-down in a police vehicle.

The incident raises questions about police procedures, accountability, and the rights of civilians. The family’s lawsuit will be allowed to proceed after the judge’s decision. 

Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that shields government officials from civil liability in many instances. It applies unless the official violates a constitutional right that has been clearly established.

The incident leading to the lawsuit occurred in August 2020 when the officers responded to an emergency call warning about an individual behaving erratically.

Lopez was the father of two children and a truck driver. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The medical examiner’s autopsy revealed methamphetamine was in his system.

A witness who captured 20 seconds of the incident on cell phone video told reporters she believed one of the officers was overly aggressive toward Ramon.

The incident has raised questions about police training and the use of force. In this case, officers were trained against taking the type of action that these officers did on that day, which could have figured into the judge’s decision against qualified immunity.

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