City issues statement after family of Ismael Lopez files $20 million lawsuit against Southaven

WATCH: Family of Ismael Lopez files lawsuit against Southaven

SOUTHAVEN, Miss — The family of the man who was shot and killed by Southaven police in 2017 has filed a federal lawsuit.

Ismael Lopez died on July 23, 2017.  Southaven Police shot him as they were serving a warrant at the wrong home. A search warrant FOX13 obtained from Tate County, Miss. showed the address on the warrant was across the street from Lopez’ home – and for a different person.

Police said Lopez was shot and killed after threatening officers with a gun. His family and attorneys deny that was the case. They said he was killed by a “single bullet to the back of his head.”

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The officers were not charged in connection with the shooting.

According to the lawsuit, Lopez "was an adult person residing in the State of Mississippi and was wrongfully and unconstitutionally killed."

The family is suing for more than $20 million in damages.

  • $8 million in actual and compensatory damages
  • $12 million for punitive damages
  • $25,000 for funeral costs.

For more information on the background of the case, see more links below. 


Attorneys Murray Wells and Aaron Neglia are representing the Lopez family. In a press conference Thursday afternoon, they explained that the officers not only killed Lopez negligently, but also placed the lives of his family members in jeopardy.

The city of Southaven, former Southaven police chief Steve Pirtle, the two officers who shot and killed Lopez, and 25 other people are named in the lawsuit.

The attorneys broke down the death of Lopez compared to other officer-involved shootings.

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“This is the worst one. I’ve personally been involved in other police shootings. There is no argument to be made that Mr. Lopez asked for this, encouraged this, or in any way an issue with the law,” said Wells.

The city of Southaven issued a statement following the press conference regarding the lawsuit:

"The City of Southaven is aware of this complaint.  Last year, a Desoto County Grand Jury reviewed all facts of this incident and made a decision to not indict any of our Southaven Police Officers.  In addition, this matter was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice, which also cleared the City of Southaven Police Officers. We are ready to vigorously defend our officers and City in a court of law in this matter.
Since we will try this case in a courtroom and not the media, I advise all that value the truth to be cautious of the partial facts and misinformation that has been circulated by some since this event occurred."

Samuel Pearman is the man officers went to arrest the night of the deadly shooting. The lawsuit claims not only did officers ignore the “P” that hung above his home, but they also completely overlooked the address listed on the warrant and violated Lopez’s civil rights.

“Here we have what you call preponderance of the evidence, meaning it was more likely than not that the civil rights of Ismael Lopez were violated when the officers shot him in the back of the head,” Wells said.

Former SCSO deputy Mike Collins said the findings from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation should make it easy for any judge to decide this case.

“These are errors that shouldn’t have been made,” Collins said. “Training and protocol could have remedied this whole situation.”