Family, attorney still searching for answers 1 year after man shot, killed by Southaven police

Family, attorney still searching for answers 1 year after man shot, killed by Southaven police

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — It’s been one year since Southaven police officers shot and killed Ismael Lopez.

Authorities were trying to serve a warrant, and went to the wrong home.

Defense Attorney Murry Wells, who is representing the Lopez family, said one year has gone by and not one charge has been filed.

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“The desire for answers is exactly the same that it was the day after,” Wells said.

On July 23, 2017, a Southaven father was taken from his family after police shot and killed him.  Wells told FOX13 his family has been waiting too long for answers.

“It’s troubling,” Wells said. “I don’t know if I’m shocked by it, but I am disappointed by it.”

FOX13 spoke to Wells back in December.

“This is abnormal. There is no rational explanation as to why it takes five months to release findings,” Wells said.

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And now seven months later, he and Lopez’s wife, Claudia, are still waiting.

“It’s troubling to me that she’s had to wait this long and we’re optimistic that in the very short future she is going to get some explanation as to how she lost her husband,” Wells said.

The autopsy report was completed more than a month ago, and it has still not been released.

“It was weird because we can’t give it to you cuz it’s not done, and when it’s done we can’t give it to you,” Wells said.  “We think we’re going to get it fairly soon. It’s time.”

Southaven Police Chief Steven Pirtle issued a statement to FOX13, saying the investigation has been longer than anticipated:

The Ismeal Lopez investigation has been lengthy and longer than was anticipated. As you are aware, the final report by the Medical Examiner of the autopsy was delayed for reasons that were not within our control.
Due to the circumstances, instead of our agency investigating this shooting, I requested that the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the District Attorney's Office investigate and that the F.B.I. Office be made aware and given the information to be presented to the Dept. of Justice for review as well.
One officer has left the department and the other officer remains on non-enforcement status until this investigation has concluded.

Lopez’s death sparked dozens of protests in Southaven early on, but none recently.

“I think in the near future you’ll see a resurgence of concern by the community about the way this was handled,” Wells said.

Wells said this will be a federal lawsuit. He said he will file a claim that the officers of the Southaven Police Department violated the constitutional and civil rights of Lopez and his family.

The Mayor of Southaven, Darren Musselwhite, issued a statement regarding the ongoing investigation:

The City of Southaven is more ready than anyone for this investigation to be complete.  As you know, we have been waiting on the state medical examiner and the Desoto County District Attorney to conclude their investigation.  We will issue a statement immediately when this is concluded.