SAN ANTONIO – Eduardo Lopez, who is living with the consequences of being wrongfully arrested three weeks ago for a hit-and-run he didn’t commit, said he has mixed feelings about an apology San Antonio Police Chief William McManus gave him in person Monday afternoon.
The apology included two letters and a $700 reimbursement check for Lopez, who said he scraped from his savings account to bond himself out.
“I wrote Mr. Lopez a letter of personal apology on behalf of the police department, and I wrote a letter for him, ‘To whom it may concern,’ should he have any employment opportunities and they bring this up,” McManus said. “It simply says he was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. What Mr. Lopez went through is never enough to make it up, but we did as much as we could.”
The hit-and-run Lopez was accused of committing happened on Dec. 2. He was arrested shortly after while he was at home with his wife and sons.
“I was angry, not because it happened with me, but I was angry it happened with my family. I had to de-escalate the situation. All I wanted was some information, and they told me they had a warrant,” Lopez said. “They said, ‘Are you coming, or do we have to take you?’ They need more training about that because I was confused. They just took me without giving me any explanation. I told everybody, ‘I am innocent,’ and they laughed and said, ‘You and half the people in here.’ That kind of broke my heart because how can you say something like that to somebody.”
Lopez said he was even more heartbroken that his sons had to witness their father being taken away by police for a crime he didn’t commit.
“I didn’t even have a chance to explain to them that I was the wrong guy,” Lopez said. “They know I am a good man, but in that moment, they had to have thought that their dad had did something wrong.”
Lopez said he felt betrayed.
“My son is an Explorer. I am trying to teach him how to be a good person,” Lopez said. “I volunteer for American Red Cross. My other son volunteers for the American Red Cross. We do nothing but good stuff, and then here they come to my door and they tell me that I am a criminal.”
McManus said no punishment is being given to his officers because they made the arrest in good faith.
“This was a decision that was made in good faith again based on probable cause,” McManus said. “They had enough probable cause to make the arrest. They simply arrested the wrong person. This was a horrible thing that has happened.”
McManus added that he hopes what they were able to do for Lopez made it right with him.
“What happened to you was a horrible thing, especially this time of year,” McManus told Lopez in his home. “Hopefully, we can make it as right as we can. You have a great Christmas, and I hope that helps a little bit -- what we did today -- and if you have any concerns in the future and need to talk, please feel free to call me.”
Lopez said he has mixed feelings about the apology after going through work and money loss.
“I don’t know why it took so long,” Lopez said. “I know we still have time before Christmas comes, but still, this could have been dealt with a long time ago. The letters were a start, but they are not doing me any favors with this check because it was my money, and I shouldn’t have spent that money. That money should have been here with these presents and with the tree.”
After the community learned about Lopez’s situation, some people stepped in so he could have something good going into the holiday.
Lopez said a man named Ernesto Davila personally delivered $200 for his family, and the Edgewood District teachers and police delivered a few presents and gift cards for his children.
“I am so thankful,” Lopez said. “They didn’t do anything bad to my family, but they were looking out for my family. I’m happy we have something, but it is still sad that I will not be able to get them what I would normally get them for Christmas. All the police could say is, ‘Sorry, here’s your money back,’ and that is it? At least they could have done something for my family because I can’t right now.”
Lopez said he will try to use part of the money returned to him to get his sons a PlayStation 5 in time for Christmas.
He said this situation has not changed his views on SAPD, but he hopes, moving forward, officers will think twice before making an arrest.
“It is innocent until proven guilty,” Lopez said. “They treated me like I was guilty. As my son, who wants to be a police officer one day, learns from this situation, I’m teaching him that when he makes an arrest one day, never treat the people like a criminal because they may not be. All of the things that happened to me, I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. It Is not right. I know a lot of people say they are innocent when they are not, but out of 100, maybe one is.”