Lakeland commissioner charged in shoplifting suspect's fatal shooting

Lakeland commissioner charged in shoplifting suspect's fatal shooting

In a still image from surveillance footage taken Oct. 3, 2018, at the Vets Army Navy Surplus store in Lakeland, Florida, store co-owner and Lakeland city Commissioner Michael Dunn points a handgun at shoplifting suspect Christobal Lopez. 

LAKELAND, Fla. — A Lakeland city commissioner accused of fatally shooting a shoplifting suspect earlier this month was arrested Friday on charges of second-degree murder, the State Attorney's Office said.

Police said Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn, 47, fatally shot Christobal Lopez, 50, of Wauchula, over a $16 hatchet Dunn said he saw Lopez try to steal from the Vets Army Navy Surplus store, where Dunn also works.

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Surveillance footage shows Lopez move toward the store's front door. Dunn tries to grab Lopez's shoulder, but instead ends up with a fistful of the man's shirt. Lopez raises his left arm, trying to break free.

Dunn then appears to shoot Lopez at least once.

The shoplifting suspect falls to the ground just outside the door with an object that appears to be a hatchet still in his right hand.

An attorney for Lopez's family provided Channel 9 the following statement Friday evening:

"There is no way to undo the life-shattering harm that Mr. Dunn caused, but we are pleased with the grand jury’s decision for such an unnecessary and egregious use of deadly force. We want to thank the State Attorney’s Office and the Lakeland Police Department for their swift and thorough investigation. We are hopeful that through both this criminal proceeding and the civil suit we plan to file, Mr. Dunn will be held fully accountable for the senseless killing of Christobal Lopez."

State Attorney Brian Haas announces the results of the Michael Dunn Investigation State Attorney's Office, 10th Judicial Circuit, State Attorney Brian Haas has issued a statement regarding the indictment of Michael Dunn in the October 3, 2018 shooting of Christobal Lopez. In addition, Chief Larry Giddens addressed the media this evening as follows: To address any concerns about how long the investigation took, please realize that the Lakeland Police Department submitted the complaint affidavit for this crime to the State Attorney’s Office just nine days after the shooting. In those few days, the scene was processed, all witnesses were interviewed, the victim’s family was interviewed, the defendant’s statement was obtained, multiple reports were written, the medical examiner’s office conducted their investigation, the surveillance video was downloaded and then compiled so that it could be viewed. We had partnered with the State Attorney’s Office to ensure that the investigation was done in a transparent, cooperative manner and to ensure that all relevant laws were properly considered. Even after the complaint affidavit was submitted, the investigation continued in the form of the State Attorney’s Office gathering and presenting evidence to a grand jury. The process was one which was handled with the utmost care, as all investigations must be. Although this investigation may have taken longer than some would have liked, we had an obligation to do it right, and that is what we will always do to ensure the citizens of this community can continue to have the faith and confidence in us that we have earned in these past several years.

Posted by LakelandPD on Friday, October 19, 2018