Christina Lopez: Mom of teen killed by cops uses $4.9M payout to buy guns and sell to gangs
Christina Lopez was rewarded $4.9 million in damages after her unarmed 16-year-old son was shot and killed by police
MADERA, CALIFORNIA: A mother of six children from California, who was rewarded $4.9M in damages after her unarmed 16-year-old son was shot and killed by police, used the money to buy guns. Prosecutors said that another of her sons, 14, has been selling these guns to gang members. Police arrested Christina Lopez, 42, in connection with the incident, from her home in Madera.
Lopez was detained along with 13 other people after an investigation that went on for three months, into a murder in July carried out by members of the Calwa gang. Those arrested are mostly teenagers, the youngest being only 13 years old. Lopez now faces felony charges of conspiracy to provide firearms to a minor and felony charges of conspiracy to provide firearms to a minor.
"As a mother and a prosecutor and a citizen of this county for my entire life, this is some of the most despicable behavior I've ever seen from a human being," said Lisa Smittcamp, Fresno County district attorney, at a press conference last week, while announcing the arrests. Smittcamp added that these actions of Lopez should make people "sick to their stomach."
"The behavior of this woman is some of the most egregious criminality that I have ever seen," Smittcamp said. "It is just horrendous to me that she could do this." Smittcamp also said that Lopez encouraged the gang activity "by providing the financial means" to buy guns.
What had happened to Lopez's son?
In April 2017, Lopez's son Isiah Murrietta-Golding was fatally shot by Fresno police. Lopez was subsequently awarded the money. Murrietta-Golding and his brother were being sought for allegedly murdering 19-year-old Eugenio Ybarra just a day before. Murrietta-Golding's brother, who was a minor, handed himself in and pleaded guilty to the crime, while Murrietta-Golding was shot dead.
When police stopped Murrietta-Golding's car at a shopping mall, he got out of the vehicle and began running. One of the officers running behind the suspects, Sgt Ray Villalvazo, pulled out his gun and fired a single shot. Murrietta-Golding died after being shot in the head.
The City of Fresno's Office of Independent Review investigated the matter and found that Villalvazo fired the shot because the officers saw Murrietta-Golding repeatedly looking at them over his shoulder and reaching for his waistband. Although it seemed like Murrietta-Golding was carrying a gun and contemplating shooting them, he was actually unarmed.
Public records show that after the city settled with Murrietta-Golding's mother, she bought a five-bedroom home on five acres of land in a western suburb of the Central Valley city with the money. If Lopez is finally found guilty of buying the guns for her son, she will face as many as 10 years in prison. According to police, a 47-year-old member of the Calwa street gang, Jesse Aguilar, "was directing teenagers belonging to the gang to commit murders".
Julia Sherwin represented Lopez's in the civil rights lawsuit after Murrietta-Golding's death. She has claimed that the charges against Lopez were only payback for the settlement. Lopez is now in jail, with bail set at $1.67 million. "The crimes alleged against her are completely contrary to everything we know about her," she said. "These criminal charges reek of retaliation for Christina winning the largest settlement against Fresno in its history. Six of Christina's living children are under the age of 10, including a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a 10-month-old. She should be released so she can get back to raising her kids."