Mississippi cop shoots & kills man while serving warrant at wrong house

Mississippi cop shoots & kills man while serving warrant at wrong house
The family of a man fatally shot by a Southaven police officer dispute the police claim that the man was pointing a gun at law enforcement. Officers had been attempting to serve an arrest warrant at the wrong house.

Ismael Lopez, 41, and his wife, Claudia Linares, were asleep when they were woken by Southaven Police Department cruisers parked in front of their house on Sunday around 11:30pm. Linares told WMC that Lopez went to answer the door when she heard three shots fired. By the time she got to Lopez, he was already dead.

At a press conference Monday, District Attorney John Champion told WMC the officers were attempting to serve a warrant to Samuel Pearman for aggravated domestic violence, and it was “very possible that the officers were at the wrong address.”

According to an arrest warrant obtained by WREG, the officers were sent to 5878 Surrey Lane, but ended up across the street at 5881 Surrey Lane.

Murray Wells, an attorney representing the Lopez family, said that the officers “didn't take the time to analyze the address."

"This is incredibly tragic and embarrassing to this police department that they can't read house numbers,” Wells told WMC.

The police claim that when officers arrived on the scene, a pit bull ran out of the house and charged at them, prompting one of the officers to shoot at the dog. At that point, Champion said the officers saw Lopez pointing a gun at them through a crack in the door.

The district attorney said that the police ordered Lopez to put down the gun several times. When he did not comply, an officer fired his weapon multiple times, striking and killing Lopez.

"One of the officers did fire a shot at the pit bull dog. While this was going on, they also noticed at the time that a gun was pointed outside the residence," Champion said, according to UPI. "At this point, the officers began hollering, 'Put the gun down, put the gun down,' at which point that did not occur and there were more than one shot was fired toward the door and there was a male subject inside the residence that was killed."

Champion said that a gun was found on the scene, but according to Wells, Lopez did not have his gun on him when he was shot.

"There was a gun on the premises, but the man did not have the gun with him when police shot him," Wells told WMC.

Jordan Castillo, 23, a friend of Lopez, also said that Linares told him she didn’t hear the police give any commands or instructions.

"She said when he got up, she heard the footsteps all the way up to the door, she heard the doorknob turn, and then after the doorknob turned it was just gunshots from there,” Castillo told the Commercial Appeal.

On Monday, Castillo showed reporters the three bullet holes in the front door, saying: "If you're shooting through a door in that manner, you don't know who's behind that door,” according to the Commercial Appeal.

During the press conference, Champion told the Desoto News that Lopez did not have any warrants out for his arrest and he was “not wanted for anything at all.”

Champion said that the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is gathering evidence in the investigation and the District Attorney's Office will decide whether to bring charges against the officers.

“I’m going to let them do their job first and then I’m going to sit down with the appropriate MBI officials and we’re going to look at all of the facts and make a determination of where we go next,” Champion told the Desoto News. “But I’m not here to put officers in jail when they certainly acted appropriately. That’s why we have to look closely at every one of these cases.”

According to WREG, the officer who fired the shots has not been suspended, but has been placed on non-enforcement status.

In the days following the shooting, family and friends gathered at the Lopez house to pay their respects.

Wells said Lopez had “no criminal history whatsoever” and was “loved in the neighborhood.”

"They've been in that home for 13 years. The only time the police had ever been there was when they had been robbed," Wells told WMCA.