Perjury Case Against Former Burlington Cop Continues; Judge Rejects Two Plea Agreements

BURLINGTON, Vt. - No deal was reached Thursday in the perjury case against former Burlington police officer, Christopher Lopez. The 28 year-old pleaded not guilty after the judge rejected two plea agreements

When Lopez entered the courtroom Thursday, he expected to formally accept a plea deal. He would have pleaded-no contest and paid a $1,000, but Judge Alison Arms said no.

"What the court is concerned about is that if this is going to have a sufficient that there does need to be some acceptance of responsibility here... A no-contest plea doesn't do that,” explained Arms.

Both sides went back to the drawing board. Prosecutors say Lopez knowingly lied to police about smelling marijuana during a routine traffic stop last October. Lopez claims it was a filing error but the state says footage captured by Lopez's body camera speaks for itself.

"I am just trying to get creative about how I am going to get in the car,” said Lopez to another officer during the traffic stop. The other officer asked Lopez if he smelled anything. Lopez replied, “I mean I can if I need to, but I don't like going that way if I can't back it up.”

Lopez later resigned from the force and the city of Burlington paid a $100,000 settlement to the driver.

Judge Arms says the court would accept an agreement that includes the fine, community service in the form of speaking engagements with other officers, and written apology letters to the people in the car. The defense agreed to everything, but the fine.

Arms said, “I think the fine is important.”

With no plea deal, Lopez was released on conditions and left without speaking to reporters.

Assistant Attorney General Evan Meenan says he appreciates the court's decision.

"The message needs to be sent that if you lie in an affidavit of probable cause or in any other manner while acting as a law enforcement officer your career will be over in the state of Vermont,” said Meenan.

Lopez is due back in court next month. Meenan says he cannot at this time get into specifics as to what happens between now and then.

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