GILROY – A Gilroy police officer acted in “lawful self-defense” when she shot and killed a 40-year-old man wanted for attempted murder during a gunfight last year in the downtown area, according to the Santa Cara County District Attorney’s Office.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 8, 2021, David Lopez “lured” Officer Catalina Fraide to the US Post Office at Fourth Avenue and Eigleberry Street under the pretense that he wanted to surrender, Deputy District Attorney Robert Baker wrote in a 20-page report released Friday afternoon. Instead, Lopez “ambushed her,” he wrote.
According to the report, Lopez fired a handgun twice in Fraide’s direction. The firearm jammed, and he tossed it aside and pulled out a second pistol. Fraide returned fire and Lopez tried to shoot her with the second handgun, but it was not loaded. He then retreated behind a cement pillar, and it looked like he was trying to reload the pistol.
“Officer Fraide, believing Lopez would kill her if he had the chance to reload, returned fire and hit Lopez in the head with a single bullet, killing him.” Baker wrote.
At the time of the confrontation, Lopez was wanted for the attempted murder of a man on Aug. 31, 2021. Lopez had asked the victim, identified in the report as John Doe, if he wanted to go look for a man who had assaulted Doe several months earlier. When Doe declined, Lopez shot him a total of five times, according to the report.
A no-bail warrant was issued for Lopez’s arrest the following day. A week later, he called 911 and told a Gilroy police dispatcher he was at the post office and ready to surrender. Baker wrote in his report that Lopez assured the dispatcher he was not armed.
“The dispatcher asked Lopez again if he was armed,” Baker wrote. “He responded, ‘I wouldn’t be calling you if I was armed.’”
Fraide was the first officer to arrive at the scene and immediately came under fire, according to the report.
In an interview with Gilroy police detective Christopher Silva, Fraide recalled locking eyes with Lopez and feeling “terrified” after her patrol vehicle was hit by the gunfire, Baker wrote. Fraide also told Silva she did not have an opportunity to use de-escalation techniques because she was immediately under fire when she arrived.
Fraide’s body-worn camera did not activate until she took cover behind her patrol vehicle, capturing only her third, fourth and fifth shots, according to the report. However, a dash cam in the patrol vehicle captured her approach her and the shooting her.
“Under the facts of this case and the applicable law, Officer Fraide reasonably believed she needed to use deadly force to protect herself from being killed by David Lopez, and such force was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances,” Baker wrote.