LAS VEGAS -- After being on hold for 20 months because of legal proceedings, the Clark County coroner's office will hold its first inquest in May.
The case to be investigated is the police-involved fatal shooting of Eduardo Lopez-Hernandez. The inquest is set for May 3 and 4 at the Regional Justice Center.
It will be the first inquest held since October 2010, and the first one held since the Clark County Commission revised the process in December 2010.
The 7-member inquest panel no longer determines whether the actions of law enforcement were justified, excusable or criminal. Instead, the inquest panel will be responsible for answering a set of questions suggested by the respective interested parties and approved by the judge.
The changes adopted by the commission include the addition of an ombudsperson to represent the decedent’s family and the public, the exchange of key evidence and investigative files, and the restructuring of meetings leading up to the hearing. No inquests were held during 2011 because of legal challenges brought by police officers.
“We have 18 cases pending inquest review and after more than a year of postponements we are able to move forward,” Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy said today. “These are very serious events and we are working to help bring some resolution to these cases.”
The coroner’s inquest process is the fact-finding procedure that takes place any time an individual dies at the hands of law enforcement in Clark County.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, Lopez-Hernandez died Aug. 25, 2010, during a confrontation with officers with the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Henderson Police Department.
In October 2010, the NHP said Lopez-Hernandez was driving erratically and collided with at least one vehicle in the northbound lanes of U.S. 95 near Charleston Boulevard.
According to published reports, Lopez-Hernandez then got out of his car and acted violently toward other motorists. Lopez-Hernandez eventually jumped the highway median and crossed into traffic in the southbound lanes of U.S. 95.
When NHP troopers approached him, officials said Lopez-Hernandez became violent and combative.
Lopez-Hernandez started a physical altercation with troopers, forcing them to use a Taser to subdue him, the Nevada Department of Public Safety said. After Lopez-Hernandez was controlled, officers noticed he wasn't breathing and began performing life-saving measures, the highway patrol said. He was pronounced dead at Sunrise Hospital.
Las Vegas Justice Court Chief Judge Karen Bennett-Haron will preside over the inquest hearing. The ombudsperson for this inquest will be Mark B. Bailus.