VIDEO: Store Owner Fatally Shoots Man Stealing Hatchet
Lakeland, FL – Police released surveillance video that showed a store owner fatally shooting a man who tried to steal a hatchet from his military surplus store (video below).
Police said Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn shot 50-year-old Cristobal Lopez on Oct. 3, while he was shopping with his father at the store co-owned by Dunn, according to WFTS.
As Lopez’s father was making a purchase, Dunn saw Lopez trying to steal a hatchet.
He stopped Lopez and asked if he was going to buy the hatchet, and that sparked a confrontation that left Lopez dead less than 10 minutes after he entered the store.
The video began as Dunn backed into the camera’s view with his gun pointed at Lopez, who was trying to get to the exit.
Lopez tried to leave the store and had his back turned to Dunn when the commissioner grabbed him by the left shoulder, the video showed.
Dunn grabbed Lopez’s t-shirt as the man tried to make his escape.
The video showed Lopez pulled away while both hands were on the door, and finally got loose of Dunn’s grasp.
That’s when Dunn fired his weapon at Lopez, who immediately collapsed to the ground.
Police described both Lopez and his father as transient, and said the men had been in Lakeland for about a month, according to The New York Times.
No charges have been filed against Dunn.
"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 the approval of the State Attorney's Office to release all the videos which show the shooting that occurred on October 3," the Lakeland Police Department said in a statement, according to WFTS.
"Though citizens may have strong feelings about what is depicted, we ask you to remain patient as our department continues to work with the State Attorney's Office to investigate,” the statement read.
James Franklin, Dunn’s lawyer, confirmed to the New York Times that his 47-year-old client shot Lopez with a Glock handgun, but said he wouldn’t make any further comments until after the investigation was completed.
The New York Times reported that the investigation was expected to be finished by the end of the week.
Dunn, who has been a city commissioner since January, texted The Ledger that he was "OK" but had no further comment.
The Ledger reported that Dunn also had been involved in an accidental shooting when he was 19 years old.
Dunn shot Robert Hilton while he was practicing his aim with a pistol at his house. He said at the time that he thought the gun was unloaded.
The bullet went out the front door of Dunn's home and hit Hilton in the elbow as he drove by in his car. Police determined that shooting was accidental, and Dunn was not charged, The Ledger reported.
You can see the video of the shooting below. WARNING - Graphic Content: