Choices. Some bad ones are costing Cadmio Lopez dearly, although it's difficult to muster much sympathy.
On a February night in 2011, Lopez and two friends chose to go to Dan O'Brien's Public House, a bar in northwest Oklahoma City, and eventually start a disturbance. Employees asked Chad Peery to help show the men to the exit; they knew he was a police officer. Off duty and watching a Thunder game with his father, Perry obliged and escorted the men outside.
On reaching the doorway one of the men, Josh Rinken, hit Peery in the face and got him in a headlock, despite being told Peery was an officer. The other friend, Jimmy Dan Smith, joined in and repeatedly struck Peery in the head. Meantime Lopez chose to keep others, including Peery's father, at bay and allow the beating to continue.
All three men then left. Peery lay unconscious and paralyzed with a broken neck.
Police soon arrested Lopez, Rinken and Smith. Smith made a deal with prosecutors that left him with a 10-year prison sentence. Rinken did the same. Lopez chose not to make a deal and instead pleaded guilty in November 2011 to assault and battery by means of force likely to cause death. In January 2012, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 15 years' probation.
Last week, Lopez was in court seeking unsuccessfully to have his sentence reduced. He asked forgiveness and told Peery, “I wish this never happened.” Peery was unmoved, telling Lopez that what he had done that night changed Peery's life forever. Indeed whenever Lopez is released, he'll be able to walk out of prison. Peery, 35 and the father of four, may never walk again.
As prosecutor Scott Rowland said, Lopez “took his chances and pleaded guilty, was sentenced, and now wishes he had taken the original offer. It's that simple.” Fifteen years is a long time. But choices have consequences.