Florida authorities have released surveillance video footage that shows Michael Dunn — a city commissioner in Lakeland, Florida — fatally shooting 50-year-old Christobal Lopez, who was allegedly trying to steal a hatchet from Dunn’s Vets Army Navy Surplus store. The shooting happened around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, October 3.
Rusty Franklin, a lawyer for Mr. Dunn, says that his client was justified in the shooting Lopez because he was holding a hatchet during the incident and is protected under Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.
While no charges have been filed against Dunn at the time of this writing, The Lakeland Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office continue to investigate.
Under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, the burden of proof is on prosecutors to show that a person was not justified in invoking “stand your ground” — not on the shooter to establish that he or she was justified.
via Tampa Bay Times:
Video from inside the Vets Army Navy Surplus store shows Dunn holding a gun in his right hand as Lopez tries to advance toward the door. Dunn pushes Lopez with his left arm, and Lopez goes for the door again.
Still pointing the gun at Lopez, Dunn tries to grab Lopez’s shoulder from behind with his left hand as Lopez makes it out the door, the video shows. Dunn’s hand slips off Lopez’s shoulder but Dunn is able to grab a fistful of the man’s t-shirt. Lopez raises his left arm in an apparent attempt to break free, and then Dunn appears to fire.
Lopez falls to the pavement just outside the door. He appears to shake for a moment, then lies still as Dunn keeps the gun trained on him.
At the moment Dunn fires, Lopez is holding the door with his right hand and appears to be holding an object in that same hand. It’s unclear if the object is the hatchet that Lopez is suspected of trying to steal when he was shot.
According to Florida’s self-defense law, a person can use deadly force “if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
You can see the footage of the Christobal Lopez shooting that police released below (Warning — the footage can be considered graphic):