Police in Southaven, Mississippi are accused of shooting Ismael Lopez to death after going to the wrong house to serve a search warrant.
The search warrant showed “the address on the warrant was across the street from Lopez’s home,” WFTV reports. Lopez, 41, a car mechanic who helped troubled youths, was killed in his own home.
“A prosecutor said the officers may have gone looking for a suspect at the wrong address,” The Commercial Appeal reported.
Authorities allege Lopez was killed after a gun was pointed at them, but the family and others dispute that account.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Were Supposed to Go to a Different House, Which Has a Large ‘P’ On It
The search warrant was actually for a man named Samuel Pearman, who is wanted in an arrest warrant “on a domestic aggravated assault charge after he allegedly choked a woman Sunday in front of her 4-year-old child at a Tate County gas station” in Southaven, Mississippi, reported WFTV.
For his part, Pearson said on Facebook that he hasn’t done anything wrong.
“Someone didn’t take the time to analyze the address,” said Murray Wells, an attorney for Lopez’s family. “This is incredibly tragic and embarrassing to this police department that they can’t read house numbers.”
The house actually listed on the warrant was across the street, had a big “P” on the side of it, and was 36 feet away from Lopez’ house, according to WMC Action News 5.
2. Lopez Was an Auto Mechanic Originally From Mexico Who Mentored Troubled Teenagers
A family friend, Jordan Castillo, told the Commercial Appeal that Lopez was originally from Veracruz, Mexico, but he had lived in the United States for years.
Ismael Lopez “formerly worked for the city of Bartlett and more recently operated a small mechanic’s shop across the street from his home. He said Lopez was a father figure to him and mentored him when he was a troubled teenager,” reported The Commercial Appeal.
Lopez had lived in the neighborhood “for 13 years and worked as an auto mechanic for the city of Bartlett, about 23 miles away,” reported UPI.
3. Police Say a Gun Was Pointed at Them
When police showed up at Lopez’ door instead, they say a gun was pointed at them.
John Champion, a prosecutor, stressed in a news conference that details were still unfolding, but he said “two officers were at the scene and that a pit bull dog burst out of the house, prompting one of the officers to shoot at it.”
At that point, “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.”
4. Lopez Was Not Wanted for Anything by Police & the Family & a Neighbor Are Challenging the Police Account
Police were not seeking Lopez at the time he was shot.
“He was not wanted for anything at all,” Champion, the prosecutor, confirmed in the news conference.
The Commercial Appeal reports that a family friend contests the police version of events, alleging the bullets went through a closed door. The family attorney told UPI the only other time police were at the Lopez home was when the family was victims of a robbery.
“I didn’t hear yelling,” neighbor Nicholas Tramel told WMC Action News 5, which added, “Tramel’s room is right next to the Lopez home. He said he never heard police tell Lopez to put his rifle down.” The television station reported that Lopez’ attorney disputes that Lopez had a gun. “There was a gun on the premises, but the man did not have the gun with him when police shot him,” the attorney told WMC Action News 5.
The names of the officers involved in Lopez’ shooting have not yet been released. A GoFundMe site has been set up to raise money for Ismael Lopez’ funeral expenses. It reads, “Lopez was killed by Southaven police department after they opened fire on him and his dog Coco. The dog survived but sadly the owner passed . Never in my life I would think that I would be sitting here asking for donations . Lopez donations will help pay for his funeral. His body will be sent to his hometown, Mexico where many of his family will be waiting for his arrival. Anything would help and be greatly appreciated. God bless you all.”
5. Lopez’ Wife Says She Saw Him on the Floor With Empty Hands
Lopez’ wife told News Channel 3 through an interpreter that only she and her husband were home and he “went to the door after hearing the dog barking and looking outside the window seeing police cars.”
“They started pounding on the door and as far as she knows when he opened the door, they started shooting. She didn’t see it, but she is just repeating as much as she knows,” says Rami Desantiago, a family friend to the television station.
“She ran out. She saw him laying on the floor. She ran out and she saw him laying on the floor with his hands empty. She didn’t see any kind of a gun or anything,” Desantiago told Channel 3. “She just wants to know why. She wants to seek justice. She doesn’t understand why they come and killed him. “