An officer-involved shooting that fatally injured a man in Mississippi is under investigation after it is believed police went to the wrong address looking for a suspect.
Prosecutor John Champion said Monday that Southaven Police Department officers on Sunday were looking for a man in relation to an aggravated domestic violence case under investigation by another agency.
Officers may have gone to the wrong house, Champion said, adding that the man who died, an auto mechanic, had no warrants for his arrest.
“He was not wanted for anything at all,” said Champion.
On Monday, Champion provided the following rough account of what happened:
Two officers were at a Southaven, Miss., home about 11:30 p.m. Sunday and a pit bull dog burst out of the house, prompting one of the officers to shoot at it.
Then a man pointed a gun at officers through an open door, Champion said. The officers repeatedly warned him to put the gun down before one of them opened fire. Champion believed one officer shot at the dog, while the other shot at the man.
A gun was found at the scene, Champion said.
He said the incident was not recorded as Southaven police do not have body cameras.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the case, while Champion’s office is reviewing the evidence for possible charges against the officers involved.
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Although Champion didn’t identify the slain man, family friend, Jordan Castillo, 23, said the man was Ismael Lopez, 41.
Castillo said Lopez was a native of Veracruz, Mexico, who had lived in the U.S. for many years and formerly worked for the city of Bartlett, Miss., 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.
Castillo said the slain man’s wife was too upset to talk, but that she’d told him things that contradicted the official account. He said Lopez had two guns: a Glock pistol, which he usually kept in the bedroom, and a .22 caliber rifle, which he usually kept in the front room.
He said Lopez’s wife told him that after the shooting, the rifle was in its usual spot.
Castillo said he couldn’t imagine that Lopez would have come out aiming a gun at police. “It don’t make sense at all,” he said.
He said Lopez knew English and would not have misunderstood commands to put down a gun — but he said Lopez’s wife said she didn’t hear such commands.
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“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.”
A pit bull named Coco seemed docile around the small crowd of people, though it startled the visitors at one point by bolting away. Castillo said Coco was chasing a squirrel.
On Tuesday, an attorney representing Lopez’s family said his law firm would conduct its own investigation into the shooting.
During a news conference Tuesday, Murray Wells, of law firm Horne and Wells, said police searching for a suspect went to the wrong address.
“They should have never been on the property in the first place,” he said.
Wells, contradicting Champion’s earlier account, said Lopez, a gun owner, did not have a gun in his hand when he was shot.