Police in Lakeland Florida have released footage showing Lakeland city commissioner, 47-year-old Michael Dunn, shooting and killing 50-year-old Christobal Lopez on October 3rd.
The surveillance footage shows Dunn wrestling with Lopez near the entrance of the Vets Army Navy Surplus store located in Lakeland which is owned by Dunn.
According to Dunn, Lopez was trying to steal a hatchet. The commissioner states he confronted Lopez about whether or not Lopez was going to pay the hatchet.
Video shows the commissioner trying to restrain Lopez. The alleged thief tries to break free and make his escape from the store.
The footage shows Dunn shoot Lopez at least twice but doesn’t show the man trying to attack Dunn with the hatchet, he only attempts to flee the store.
Lopez then lies outside the store for over three minutes, no one attempting to help the mortally wounded man.
Watch a video of the surveillance footage. Warning: Some viewers might find this video disturbing.
When police arrived at the scene, they discovered Lopez had died of his wounds.
According to Dunn’s lawyer, Rusty Franklin, Dunn was justified in the shooting because Lopez still had the hatchet in his hand.
From the video of the incident, it does not appear that Dunn was in any danger as Lopez seems only interested in getting away with the stolen merchandise.
Florida Law allows store owners to use reasonable force in retraining shoplifters.
However, Dunn will have a hard time articulating why he decided to shoot Lopez, who was not threatening him in any way, according to lawyers who reviewed the footage for the Tampa Bay Times.
Florida law allows a person, who reasonably believes their life or someone else’s, is in danger of death or great bodily harm, to use deadly force. But in this case, it does not appear to be so.
Dunn reportedly accidentally shot someone else when he was 19, according to the Lakeland Ledger, but is known for his stance as an advocate for gun ownership.
The investigation of the shooting death of Lopez is still under investigation by the Lakeland police department.
What do you think of this situation? Was Dunn justified in the shooting of Lopez? If not, what do you think the city commissioner should have done instead? Leave us a comment below to let us know.