Why did Anaheim cops kill Abigail “Abby” Lopez? And other recent APD Fatalities.

ABBY! Born 2003, killed Oct. 29, 2023

There were three APD fatalities between August and October of this year, which sounds really bad – two fatal shootings and one “death in custody.”

It makes you wonder if the APD is back to the bad old days of 2011-12 when they shot eight young men in the space of 12 months – seven of them fatally, most of them fleeing and unarmed, most of them Latino – in what seemed to be a war on gang members and alleged gang members. That led Anaheim to being rated the 9th most deadly city of its size for police killings. The killings stopped for a couple years after the back-to-back killings of Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo in July 2012, and some modest reforms were made, but the years of 2016 and 18 were pretty bad too, for questionable police killings – the victims now tended to be homeless and/or mentally ill.

But each of these latest killings need to be looked at individually. As always the public has many questions, and we expect no real investigation from our DA Todd Spitzer, who’s never found a cop in the wrong.

The most recent killing, of Abigail “Abby” Lopez on Oct. 29, the “Burger King Murder” at Ball and Anaheim, is the one we have the MOST questions about. Apparently someone had reported this 20-year old girl as having a gun, which turned out after the fact to be a “BB or pellet gun” that (according to the police) LOOKED from a distance like “a legitimate short-barrel assault weapon.

But as far as we can tell from the widely-seen video below, Abigail DROPPED her “gun” when commanded to by the police, and FIVE SECONDS LATER was hit by multiple rounds from the police. We need to know why?

The APD says now that Abby was hit by “at least one bullet.” We hear multiple shots ringing out; spectators estimated from four to ten. We know that the APD has a policy like most police departments that once one officer fires a shot, they all fire. So if ONE officer panicked and thought Abby was still a threat – and that one shot may have missed her or not been fatal – too bad, there’s already a firing squad going on. Isn’t it time to revisit that policy?

Abby had a lot of friends in that part of South Anaheim, and they held a rowdy, angry protest a few days later, which we missed, and I still haven’t been in touch with any of her friends or family. I hope some of them, and witnesses, will comment on this story. I did come across this interview with her parents, from the Spanish-language station Univision:

I’ll have a translation of that up shortly. We hear her family has “lawyered up.” The APD has not yet put together their official “incident report” on this tragedy (as they have with the two previous incidents) but it’s hard to see how they can make this NOT look REALLY BAD. We will be following up on this to the end. RIP, and JUSTICE FOR ABBY!

Three weeks earlier, at the ARCO at Katella & Harbor, THIS happened:

Luis Muñoz, killed 10/3/2023

What we were told about the Oct. 3 killing of Luis Muñoz was that he was a “suspect” in a sexual assault, and that “a knife was found on the scene.” I was nearby when it happened, meeting with Disneyland Forward people, so when I heard the news I drove by, a couple hours after the killing. All corners of the intersection were blocked off, and police were searching every corner and bush, two hours later. My first thought was “This was just a SUSPECT, and if he were threatening anyone with a knife, or even holding it, they would have said so – so why couldn’t they arrest him without killing him?”

The APD incident video when it came out actually made things a lot clearer. We’re used to the initial statements of the police making the victim sound as dangerous and menacing as possible, and their own actions as being tempered and unavoidable. Is the new spokesman, Sgt. McClintock, attempting to do the opposite of that? The video shows Muñoz, who’d allegedly just committed a gruesome sexual assault, running from the cops up and down sidewalks clutching a huge knife while the cops yell “Drop the knife dude!” – it’s like Grand Theft Auto. Then when he finds himself surrounded at the ARCO, he raises the knife above his head and comes at one of the cops, and the firing squad commences. Well… what can we say?

RIP Muñoz.

And two months before that, on Katella in the Platinum Triangle…

Clinton Agapinan, died “in custody” Aug. 17, 2023

We were sad about Clinton; Donna and her sons knew him when he was growing up but hadn’t seen him in a while, and we went to his funeral in Brea. They played “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and “If I Could Change the World.”

The story we were told at first didn’t make sense, was full of holes. APD said they tried to pull Clinton over on his motorcycle, and he took off fast, eastward on Katella, they decided not to pursue him, and then he crashed. Then they arrived on the scene, tried to help him, called an ambulance, “found a weapon” on him, he got uncooperative, they had to handcuff him, and at some point he died, waiting for the ambulance or soon after. Once again, the video below makes things a LITTLE clearer, but still leaves a few questions.

We wonder what they first tried to pull him over for, and maybe we’ll never know why he fled so desperately. It’s not exactly true that they “decided not to pursue him” – they called the helicopter, “Angel,” which followed him down Katella and saw him crash. (Into what? A pole, a car?) What sort of “medical aid” did they administer? The footage shows the police examining him and just trying to make him lie still so he doesn’t hurt himself more. The autopsy showed “a punctured lung, perforated liver and a lacerated vein caused by blunt force trauma sustained in the crash.”

When they ask his name, he replies, “I’m [unintelligible]” which appear to be his last words. One cop appears to find a “loaded handgun” in Clinton’s waistband. I watched this bit a few times and we don’t have a good view. I assume THAT cop’s bodycam footage will show him actually FINDING it there – we’re sure that at least with Joey Acevedo in 2012 a gun was planted on him (after two hours of reporting that the gun was “found in the SUV” Joey had run from.) But then, why would they want to plant a gun on Clinton? There was apparently no killing to justify. Still it would be good to see them actually finding it.

The video shows them waiting for the ambulance while trying to keep Clinton from moving and hurting himself more – they also fear that he could have a secret SECOND gun on him and rise up like super-suspect, firing, so when he starts sporadically moving his arms and legs they handcuff him. It’s hard to see how being handcuffed would help a guy with a punctured lung. Eventually they check and find no pulse, and remove his helmet and handcuffs.

Rest in peace, Clinton.

.Are we missing anything? If this blog doesn’t ask questions then who will? The OC Weekly is gone and no other press seems interested. Our vaunted “first Police Review Board in the County” lacks the subpoena and other powers that the Santa Ana PRB has, and its volunteer members mostly come off as incurious and credulous, no offense.

We’ll be writing again about the tragic Abby case once they get THAT video together, or we learn anything more. Friends? Witnesses? We await your input.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.