Elmer Lopez-Castaneda, 19, of Newark, Died In Fresno Police Shooting By Cedar Boulevard and Mowry Avenue

FREMONT, CALIFORNIA (August 13, 2023) – A 19-year-old man identified as Elmer Lopez-Castaneda has tragically died in a Fremont police shooting by Cedar Boulevard and Mowry Avenue.

Alameda County officials are saying that the incident began on Friday. Police were alerted to an alleged carjacking that happened on Thornton Avenue in Newark.

Someone had their car stolen after dropping off their child. Police later located the vehicle which was unoccupied and allegedly saw Elmer Lopez-Castaneda and another man enter it.

It was at this time that Fremont police officials performed a “high-risk traffic stop” and began screaming instructions at both suspects. Officers claim to have noticed a gun in the waistband of Elmer Lopez-Castaneda and ordered him to the ground.

Shortly after this encounter, officers opened fire and shot him. Paramedics were called to the scene and despite life-saving measures he later died due to his injuries.

It was later determined that the 19-year-old was unarmed and only had a replica Berretta M9 pistol. A full investigation remains ongoing.


Liability For Freemont Police Shootings

California has one of the highest instances of police shootings in the United States. According to the Prison Policy Institute of California, “About 195 people die each year from interactions with California law enforcement. Gunshots are by far the most common cause of death: nearly 250 people are shot by police each year.” It has been estimated that 4 out of 10 people treated for non-fatal gunshot wounds from a police encounter were suffering from a mental health condition. There are a number of measures that police departments should take in order to reduce the number of fatal encounters with suspects.

  • Police departments should weed out prospects that are not emotionally or psychologically fit to serve as law enforcement agents.
  • Police departments should ensure that their officers are well trained to de-escalate encounters.
  • Police officers should be equipped with less-lethal alternatives to their firearm.

Lethal force is something that police officers should only use as a measure of last resort. Pursuant to California AB 392, “the authority to use physical force, conferred on peace officers by this section, is a serious responsibility that shall be exercised judiciously and with respect for human rights and dignity and for the sanctity of every human life.” When a police officer uses excessive force and kills a suspect, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim.

Generally speaking, police officers are only permitted to use lethal force when it is reasonably necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious injury. If it was discovered that an officer could have used less than lethal force, this could create liability. Police officers should never use force to take down a suspect complying with their demands or who is fleeing on foot. There are many steps that should be taken after any police shooting.

  • Body camera footage from all officers involved should be examined.
  • Surveillance footage should be sought.
  • All medical records related to the shooting should be preserved.
  • An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.

The pre-shooting decisions of police officers can render their use of force unreasonable. This is true even if a police shooting appeared reasonable when viewed in isolation. It is important that victims of excessive force understand that they do have rights. The family of any person that died in a police shooting may have legal recourse through a civil claim. Unfortunately, it is common for police departments to blame victims when their officers shoot someone.

Getting Legal Help After Fremont Police Shootings

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Elmer Lopez-Castaneda. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened. Fremont officers chose to engage in a high-risk traffic stop and now an unarmed teenager is dead. Accountability is deeply needed after this tragedy.

Do you need more information about a Fremont police shooting? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to assist you. We focus on helping victims of excessive force by police departments. It is our mission to hold police departments accountable for their actions. Whether you just have legal questions or need more information about a particular incident we may be able to help you. You can reach out to us anytime at  (949) 825-5200.


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