Tape at center of police investigation

July 20, 2009 4:11:16 PM PDT
A Philadelphia police internal investigation centers on a tale of the tape. It involves an officer assigned to the 8th district, an officer caught on tape engaging in what some are calling unnecessary roughness.Video surveillance caught the chaotic scene on tape. It shows Officer Alberto Lopez coming into a gas station convenience store with his son right behind him. Almost immediately he grabs Agnes Lawless and holds the gun to her head.

Matt Whatley and Christopher Mendez were also in the store. They say Officer Lopez immediately went for Agnes.

Lawless struggled and Officer Lopez's son is also seen on the video grabbing her by the neck and slamming her back against the counter. She was charged with assaulting an officer.

In court, Lopez testified that he went in and "Ordered everybody on the floor, she freaked out and started punching slapping and kicking me multiple times." The witnesses and the videotape tell a different story.

It all started when Officer Lopez' son rear ended the car Lawless and her friends were in. They exchanged words and went on their way. Lopez's son went to his father who was on duty at the time and claimed he was threatened with a gun.

Lopez and his son got in a patrol car and came across the other car at the gas station. After the confrontation, the store clerk says Lopez told him to destroy the video tape.

Police Internal Affairs investigated and concluded Lopez acted improperly. The department's memo concludes with a statement from Lopez saying, "I would like to have used better judgment that night."

Officer Lopez was taken off active duty for several months but was reinstated after the D.A. decided not to pursue criminal charges against him.

The charges against Agnes Lawless were dropped and she is now preparing a civil lawsuit. Her friends now fear the police.

We contacted Officer Lopez's attorney. He says Officer Lopez has a different version of events to tell, but has no comment while waiting for a police hearing that could determine his future with the force.