No charges against cops who shot Latino man in the back after picking wrong house to serve warrant

No charges against cops who shot Latino man in the back after picking wrong house to serve warrant
A grand jury has failed to indict two Southaven Police officers who fatally shot a man and his dog after they picked the wrong house to serve an arrest warrant. The decision has outraged the family of the victim.

The controversial altercation happened last July, when three police officers arrived at a mobile home park in Southaven, Mississippi, to serve an arrest warrant in an aggravated assault case. The officers mistakenly knocked at the wrong door.

When the door opened, a pit bull from the house charged at one of the responding officers. While one policeman shot at the dog, grazing the animal with a bullet, another officer unloaded four shots at the house after Ismael Lopez allegedly pointed a gun from behind the cracked front door. One of the bullets struck him in the back of the head, killing him instantly.

Only later did the law enforcement officers discover that the 41-year-old auto mechanic had no warrants issued for his arrest. Instead, Southaven Police officers had intended to arrest Samuel Pearman, who lived 36 feet away from Lopez's home.

A year after the homicide, District Attorney John Champion presented the case in front of the grand jury in an effort to indict the officers, whose identities have not been made public.

“The grand jury was given all of the evidence and they decided not to indict,” Champion said. “From my perspective, the case is closed at this point.”

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite's office said it also “considers this matter concluded,” following “sufficient evaluation” by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the US Department of Justice.

“It has been very disheartening to watch the persecution of our officers by some, both prematurely and inaccurately. A picture painted with partial and inaccurate information is easy to create and very influential when strategically circulated through media avenues but can be very misleading and dangerous to those that value the truth,” the office said.

While Lopez' family is expected to hold a press conference on the grand jury's decision on Thursday, Pastor Rolando Rostro, an advocate for the victim's family, called the verdict a massive crime cover-up.

“This is a shame to Mississippi, this is a shame to the police department and this is why people don't trust the police department,” Rostro said. “In this day and age, we're still having all these cover-ups in their own department. This is an outrage.”

The Southaven Police Department issued condolences to the Lopez family, noting that the officer who fired at the victim has left the department, while the officer who fired at the dog is still currently on “non-enforcement status”.

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