A Central Point man who reportedly used a high-speed car chase and an unloaded shotgun to coax police into shooting him will serve prison time.
Justin Daniel Lopez, 22, was sentenced Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court to two years in prison stemming from a Feb. 17, 2017, altercation near Don Jones Memorial Park that culminated with Lopez being shot in the pelvis by a Central Point police officer. The shooting was ruled by a grand jury to have been justified.
At 2:57 a.m. the day of the shooting, Lopez pulled beside a police cruiser in a red 1999 Chevrolet Camaro on East Pine Street near the Interstate 5 off-ramp, then peeled out through a red light — prompting a chase along thoroughfares and residential neighborhoods at speeds exceeding 70 mph, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Lopez stopped at Don Jones Memorial Park, and by the time Central Point Officer Derek Brown got there, Lopez was out of the Camaro and pointing an unloaded rifle at the officer.
Lopez racked the shotgun as though he were chambering a round and began approaching Brown, prosecutors say. After Lopez refused commands to drop the gun, Brown fired six shots — one of which struck Lopez in the pelvic region, according to a news release. When other officers arrived, Lopez reportedly asked them to just kill him.
Further investigation showed that Lopez was having a mental health crisis that night, according to prosecutors. He had sent texts to family members indicating he planned to end his life, according to the release, such as “stating he loved them and that he was sorry.”
Prior to sentencing, Lopez pleaded guilty to a felony count of unlawful use of a weapon.