General Crime

* Fremont police Sgts. Pat Epps and John Harnett and Officer Kelly Snow cleared of wrongdoing for shooting Sonny Lopez

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Santa Clara County prosecutors declined to file charges against three Fremont police officers who shot and killed a man in Cupertino last year. Fremont police Sgts. Pat Epps and John Harnett and Officer Kelly Snow were cleared of wrongdoing for shooting 34-year-old Sonny Lopez, of San Jose, on March 7, 2010, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.Lopez was wanted by Fremont police for murdering his uncle, 49-year-old Larry Lopez, who was found dead inside his Fremont home on March 1, as well as for another homicide two years prior.

He was also wanted by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for the murder of 96-year-old Charlie Maridon, a man whose home Lopez’s father maintained, during a home-invasion robbery in Saratoga in December 2009. Lopez allegedly told his ex-girlfriend and her mother that he shot and killed his uncle because his uncle had taken a car that Lopez had given him to give to Lopez’s girlfriend and had instead taken it apart and was selling the parts.

Lopez also allegedly admitted to them that he was involved in the murder of Charlie Maridon, according to the district attorney’s office. Lopez had a significant criminal record involving violence and weapons possession and had previously been sentenced to prison, according to the district attorney’s office. He was associated with criminal street gangs both in and out of prison and had numerous gang tattoos on his body. In February 2010, Lopez allegedly wrote a letter to his son claiming that he would not return to prison and that police would not take him alive.

In the letter he also said that he would kill his ex-wife, but that he did not want to leave his son without both parents, according to the district attorney’s office. On March 7, Fremont SWAT officers and members of the Santa Clara County sheriff’s Emergency Response Team were staking out an apartment complex in the 10000 block of Miller Avenue in Cupertino, the home of Lopez’s ex-girlfriend where he was believed to be staying, according to the district attorney’s office.

A member of the Fremont SWAT team saw Lopez leaving the apartment, so he confronted him and tried to arrest him.Lopez, armed with a loaded .38-caliber handgun, then allegedly ran away, jumped fences and fled into residential backyards. At one point during the pursuit, he allegedly crouched down near a fence, put his hands on his waist, where he’d kept his gun, and turned toward the officer who was pursuing him, according to the district attorney’s office.

Three officers fired at him in response and Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene.All of the shots fired by the officers were legally justified in self-defense, defense of others or during an arrest for a violent felony, according to the district attorney’s office.

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