Christopher Lopez: $3M in Death of Man Whose Jailers Joked and Laughed as He Slowly Died

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"Then they wheel him away," Lane allowed, "and in this video, you see him alone in a cell in a restraint chair having a grand mal seizure. It's really difficult to watch. But the guards are standing around talking about Walmart and what they're going to do on Saturday night. They go on and on and on and on.

"After a while, they take him out of the restraint chair, but he's still in full restraint, wearing only his boxer shorts, as he lies on the cold, concrete floor with his head under a toilet. From time to time, you can hear them say, 'Lopez? Ready to cooperate with us, Lopez?' And all you can hear is him breathing. If you saw a guy lying on a sidewalk in this condition, the first thing you'd do is call 911 -- but they do nothing." At one point during the course of events, a nurse can be seen entering -- but Lane said her mission wasn't to render emergency aid. "She says, 'It's time for your psych meds.' He doesn't respond to that, because he's near death. So they say, 'Fine,' and give him a forcible injection into his butt of his psych meds."

Lopez doesn't respond, Lane pointed out -- "and over the course of the next hour," he says, "you can literally see Christopher Lopez take his last breath on earth."

After that, Lane said, more time passed. "Twenty minutes later, some of the guards realize, 'Hey, I wonder if this guy's breathing. Was he breathing before?' And my response to that is, he was breathing for almost his entire life, but he's not breathing now, because he's dead. And they start doing CPR on a dead man. Then, finally, the EMTs arrive, and their first order is to turn off the video. But it doesn't matter. He's long since dead."

An autopsy eventually determined that Lopez "died of severe hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in a person's blood is abnormally low," the suit notes. And according to Lane, one cause of sodium deficiency is psychotropic medication of the type Lopez was on -- and the very stuff with which he was injected shortly before his death. Lane didn't claim this final shot killed him -- "I'm not a doctor," he stresses -- but he contended that "all it would have taken to cure him was to give him some sodium and monitor his blood. But they couldn't be bothered."

Continue for more about the Christopher Lopez settlement, including more photos, a document and a video that may disturb some readers.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts