Tue. Mar 5th, 2024

Santa Ana City Councilman Johnathan Ryan Hernandez has announced a vigil to take place this evening, Oct. 2, at 6:30 p.m. at Bristol and W. Santa Ana Blvd., in honor of his cousin Brandon Lopez, who was shot and killed by Anaheim police officers on September 28, 2021, in Santa Ana.

Hernandez continues to state that Lopez was murdered by the Anaheim police officers. It reminds me of what former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once said “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Hernandez campaigned on slashing funding to the Santa Ana Police Department and now he is clearly using his cousin’s death to advance this agenda.

Hernandez has steadfastly stated that what happened to Lopez was a mental health crisis. Was it? Here is what we know so far about what happened to Lopez:

  • The incident began at about 5 p.m. when Anaheim police spotted the suspect driving a stolen car in Santa Ana.
  • According to Anaheim police, a chase ensued with the assistance of a police chopper, but officers were forced to pull back due to the suspect’s dangerous driving.
  • Lopez’ car was eventually spotted disabled in a construction area at Santa Ana Boulevard and Bristol Street, with the suspect holed up inside.
  • Santa Ana and Anaheim police SWAT teams responded with crisis negotiators and spent four hours unsuccessfully trying to convince Lopez to surrender.
  • When that failed, a little before 10 p.m., SWAT teams deployed tear gas to force the suspect out of the car.
  • Just after he exited the car, Anaheim officers opened fire on him. 

We do not know why the Anaheim officers shot Lopez. We can surmise, based on past incidents, that the officers felt he was armed and believed he posed an immediate danger to them and to the public.

In our opinion it is irresponsible to label what the police officers did as murder without knowing all the facts.

We do know that the car that was reported stolen belonged to Lopez’ girlfriend.  The two may have had a fight and she reported it stolen to police, according to Hernandez.

We also know that Lopez had outstanding warrants for armed robberies.

Hernandez also has stated that he believes Lopez may have been on drugs and that he had expressed a desire to die.

While Hernandez has a whole lot to say about mental health his Linkedin Page notes that his only formal education a high school diploma from Santa Ana High School. He has held no less than five jobs since 2019. He has no mental health training or certificates but does have a certificate in “Restorative Practices” from a non-accredited organization.

What happened to Lopez was a tragedy. Apparently he had five children and leaves behind a grieving family. We are sorry for the loss.

Whether or not this was a mental health episode or a drug-induced crime spree will be established once the OC District Attorney and the Anaheim and Santa Ana Police Departments complete their formal investigations.

On a personal level I have to wonder how four hours passed at the crime scene without Hernandez being able to make his case to the SAPD Police Chief. Hernandez is a Councilman – believe me that comes with major perks including having the cell numbers of the Police Chief and the SAPD Watch Commanders. Granted the crime scene belonged to the Anaheim Police Department but then one has to ask why Hernandez was unable to get Santa Ana Mayor Vince Sarmiento to reach out to his counterpart in Anaheim?

Perhaps Hernandez did all those things but if he did not then it was a missed opportunity to intercede before his cousin was killed.

I also found it concerning that several members of the Lopez family were arrested at the crime scene after the shooting when they rushed the scene despite the police officers asking them to stay out of the perimeter. I understand that they felt immense grief but that was an active crime scene and you cannot just ignore the police officers – even if you disagree with them.

If you do go to the vigil this evening the Lopez family asks that you bring: flowers, candles and roses.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

14 thoughts on “Vigil for Brandon Lopez set for this evening at Bristol and W. Santa Ana Blvd.”
  1. Really its an active crime scene! I would live to see your father or son murdered in front of your face. You be the good citizen and wait patiently

      1. Thats an ignorant statement, because it isnt always a guilty citizen that is murdered. Many people have been killed by police without having committed a crime. Youve clearly shown where you stand in regards to policing. As a professional journalist, you should have the humility to correct that.

      1. This isnt about grammatical errors. As a journalist, you should remain as objective as possible. Not speculating as to whether the councilman is using the tragic death of a relative in order to defund our police department. The police play a crucial role in our communities. But when your stance is to begin taking sides and speculating beyond your role as a news provider, you embarrass yourself and your coworkers

  2. What a joke! This Councilmen is a disgrace to the office that he holds. He needs to be recalled for this absurd behavior over the loss of a career criminal relative. He is pushing his delusional agenda at taxpayers expense.

    1. I disagree. You almost seem to be of the belief that he shouldve been glad it happened, family or not, simply because of the criminal aspect.

    2. Councilman Hernandez has been actively helping his community much more than any other that ive seen. He isnt always behind a desk, he actually sticks to what he says. He hasnt made false promises. He dreams of the troubled residents finding peaceful redirection, not defending “criminal activity”. Attitudes like yours are why our community never reaches the results possible

  3. Well lets see . . . A violent unemployed drug addicted wanted gang member fleeing from two different police agencies in a stolen car at high speeds on the wrong side of the street during afternoon drive time? I’m glad my family wasn’t out there! Then he barricades himself in the car for four or five hours refusing to negotiate any peaceful resolve or follow legal instructions and/or commands given to him by the police? He has mental health issues? I’m pretty sure Heroin use isn’t very good for those . . or did his long time drug use and criminal lifestyle cause his mental health issues? Well Mr. City Counselman/cousin, as uneducated as you are, let me ask you a question . . if this guy has mental issues, what is his families culpability in all this? Brandon Lopez has been like this most of his life. So should the police have allowed this already wanted guy to simply walk away? I’m pretty sure Councilman Hernandez would answer that question in the affirmative to some degree or another. My advice to the Councilman would be, police your family so the real police won’t have to..

    1. Clearly you have a distorted view of life. Criminal or not, Due process means that every measure should be taken in order to see justice in court. SWAT teams should be equiped with rubber bullets or have K9 units available. Law enforcement officers are human too. And they make big errors on their behalf as well. Open your eyes. Im not defending criminal activity. Im defending his right to due process. And voicing my concern for more police accountablility

      1. Law Enforcement Officers are empowered by rational-legal authority to discharge a service weapon to kill an armed robber the split second the armed robber aims a firearm or exhibits a premeditated provocative motion to apply real or perceived deadly force at the officer. The People and the Courts give law enforcement officers legitimate authority to assassinate an armed robber when an officer’s life is in danger or public safety is at risk.

        1. I understand that and i dont disagree with your statement. But the man wasnt seen aiming a firearm at any officer. And ive seen footage of officers NOT shoot an armed male. The man in this scenerio tried to flee from the vehicle because of tear gas exposure and was shot approximately 5 times in the torso.

  4. Let’s see drug addict DUI reckless driving not obeying police officers to pull over high speed pursuit charges and caring concealed 9 mm loaded firearm in public and the vehicle he took without permission barricaded himself standoff okay criminal history no more than 10 years or less in State penitentiary not the death penalty! Bad bad call for whoever was in charge that day!!!!

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