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Video Shows Lakeland City Commissioner Shooting Alleged Thief

Oct 16, 2018

Prosecutors are trying to determine whether a Florida city commissioner should be charged in the fatal shooting of a man he accused of shoplifting a hatchet from an Army-Navy surplus store.

Surveillance video shows the store's co-owner, Lakeland Commissioner Michael Dunn, shooting Cristobal Lopez on Oct. 3.

It shows Dunn holding a gun in his right hand while trying to keep Lopez from carrying the hatchet out of the store. Dunn grabs a fistful of his shirt and Lopez is partly out the door, with what appears a hatchet in his right hand. Dunn fires and Lopez falls, mortally wounded.

Dunn's attorney, Rusty Franklin, told the Tampa Bay Times it was justified because Lopez was holding the hatchet.

Prosecutor Jacob Orr said Monday that keeping the video secret didn't benefit the investigation.

Gross said witnesses told investigators 50-year-old Cristobal Lopez entered the store with his father. While the older man was making a purchase, Dunn saw Lopez trying to steal a hatchet.

Dunn asked if he was going to pay for the item, a confrontation ensued.

After releasing the video, the Lakeland Police Department issued the following statement: "Though citizens may have strong feelings about what is depicted, we ask you to remain patient as our deparment continues to work with the State Attorney's Office to investigate."