Killed over shoplifting? ‘Disturbing’ Video Shows Store Owner Fatally Shooting Alleged Thief

“Disturbing” video footage was released by Florida police investigating a fatal shooting of a suspected shoplifter by a store owner who is also a city commissioner in a Tampa suburb. The police department in Lakeland, Florida, released surveillance video of the Oct. 3 shooting at the Vets Army Navy Surplus store that shows Michael Dunn, the store’s owner and a Lakeland city commissioner, confronting Cristobal Lopez, 50, about allegedly shoplifting a $16 hatchet, and then shooting Lopez as he tried to flee.

“We have received multiple requests for comments, reports, surveillance videos and evidence regarding the shooting at the Vets Army Navy Surplus store,” Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens said in a statement. “Please understand this is an ongoing criminal investigation. We are working with the State Attorney’s Office and the Medical Examiner’s Office, two wonderfully reputable agencies, to ensure this investigation is done in the most transparent, professional way possible. At this time, in the interest of transparency, although the criminal investigation continues to be active, we at the Lakeland Police Department have requested and received approval of the State Attorney’s Office to release all the videos which show the shooting that occurred on October 3rd,” the statement said. Dunn, 47, has not been charged in the shooting.

“Until the investigation is complete, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” Giddens said in the statement, adding that the images in the video “may be disturbing.” The footage was released on the same day Lopez’s family and friends held a funeral at a mortuary in nearby Wauchula, Florida, and a burial service at the Friendship Cemetery in Zolfo Springs. Lopez family could not be reached for comment Monday. But Lopez’s sister, Veronica Lopez, told the Tampa Bay Times last week that her brother did not deserve to die. “He was not a violent person,” Veronica Lopez told the newspaper. “My brother didn’t need to be killed like some animal.” Police released four videos of the incident from different camera angles inside the store.   [Source: ABC News]

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