A Guilford County grand jury returned a manslaughter indictment for Greensboro Police Officer M.E. Hamilton on Monday, June 6.
Hamilton was indicted for manslaughter for shooting Joseph Thomas Lee Lopez on Nov. 20, 2021, when Lopez was barricaded in a shed behind the residence at 3504 Cloverdale Dr.
According to the police report, Lopez refused to leave the shed when ordered to by police. Before entering the shed, Hamilton sent in his police dog. Hamilton shot Lopez, who was unarmed, shortly after entering the dimly lit shed. Hamilton was placed on administrative duty after the fatal shooting and was fired from the GPD on June 6 after the grand jury indictment.
The State Bureau of Investigation completed its investigation of the police involved shooting in March and submitted it to Guilford County District Attorney Avery Crump.
Following the indictment, Amiel Rossabi, the attorney for the Greensboro Police Officers Association and Hamilton, issued a press release calling the indictment “a tragic result for Greensboro’s citizens.”
Rossabi states, “Today, the District Attorney presented 15-year veteran of the GPD, Matt Hamilton, to the Grand Jury. In the six (6) months since this incident occurred, District Attorney Crump did NOT charge Officer Hamilton. Presumably, the District Attorney’s decision not to charge was based on a clear interpretation of the law, specifically N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-401(d)(2). In the six (6) months since this incident occurred, the GPD has taken no disciplinary action against Officer Hamilton and, in fact, did not even perform an investigation of the Internal Affairs Division. Again, clear evidence that Officer Hamilton was simply doing his job on November 19. Nonetheless, despite her authority and her decision not to charge Officer Hamilton, District Attorney Crump seems to have been manipulated by local citizens and others to present this case to the Grand Jury.”
Joe Lopez, the father of Joseph Lopez, has filed a civil lawsuit against the city.
There is police body cam video of the incident and Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I’ve talked to Tai [City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba] and Chuck [City Attorney Chuck Watts] about getting those videos released.”
Vaughan said that ideally the videos would be released to the public, but if they were only released for the City Council she said, “If we are able to watch these videos, we want to be able to talk about them.”
Several times in the past the City Council has received permission to view videos of incidents but were ordered by the court not to speak publicly about what they had seen.