U.S. News

Ex-City Official in Florida Is Sentenced to 3 Years for Killing a Shoplifter

A former metropolis commissioner in Lakeland, Fla., was sentenced Monday to three years in jail after he admitted to fatally capturing a man he suspected of stealing a hatchet from his store in 2018.

The former commissioner, Michael Dunn, 51, pleaded responsible in March to a cost of manslaughter with a firearm, in accordance to Polk County courtroom information. In addition to the jail time period, Polk County Judge Donald G. Jacobsen sentenced Mr. Dunn to 10 years of probation and 200 hours of group service.

In October 2018, Mr. Dunn was working on the Army-Navy surplus retailer he co-owned in Lakeland, which is about 35 miles east of Tampa, when he noticed the person, Christobal Lopez, 50, conceal a hatchet, the Lakeland Police Department stated on the time.

Mr. Dunn stopped Mr. Lopez, a transient who had entered the shop together with his father, and requested him if he was going to pay for the merchandise, the police stated. As Mr. Lopez tried to go away the shop, Mr. Dunn pulled Mr. Lopez’s sleeve and shot him.

Mr. Lopez died on the scene.

Mr. Dunn’s preliminary cost of second-degree homicide was downgraded to manslaughter after he took the plea deal, in accordance to courtroom information. He resigned from his post as an elected city commissioner a few days after he was indicted in 2018.

At a sentencing listening to on Monday, Mr. Dunn advised Judge Jacobsen that his response to seeing Mr. Lopez take the hatchet was “based on fear,” and that he was “almost in autopilot.” He additionally apologized to Mr. Lopez’s household.

“If I had a time machine, that’s what I would want: To have never seen Mr. Lopez,” Mr. Dunn stated.

Mark O’Mara, a lawyer representing Mr. Dunn, stated throughout the listening to that his consumer’s choice to shoot Mr. Lopez “was not well thought-out, but also is not indicative of anger or animosity.”

In March 2021, Brian Haas, the state legal professional for the tenth Judicial Circuit, rejected Mr. Dunn’s claim of self-defense. If Mr. Dunn’s declare had been accepted, he would have been protected by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” legislation, which makes it difficult to prosecute individuals who keep that they felt threatened and acted to defend themselves.

Paul Wallace, an assistant state legal professional, stated on the listening to that the prosecutors believed Mr. Lopez was not attempting to get into a violent confrontation.

“The vast majority of shopkeepers do not attempt to use this type of intervention,” Mr. Wallace stated.

At the listening to, the prosecutors stated that Mr. Dunn had confronted a number of shoplifters in his retailer, together with somebody he wrestled with who had a gun.

The prosecutors had requested Judge Jacobsen for a 17-and-a-half year sentence, whereas Mr. Dunn’s legal professionals had requested a 3-and-a-half-year sentence of “community control,” below which he may serve his sentence at house as an alternative of in jail.

Mr. Dunn’s aunt, who was recognized as M. Rodriguez, testified on the listening to that, after the capturing, Mr. Lopez’s father was by no means the identical.

“He talked because he had to talk, he walked because he had to walk, but we would see him and it wasn’t him,” she stated.

When Mr. Dunn was 19, he by accident shot a man whereas he was practising his goal with a pistol at his house, in accordance to The Lakeland Ledger, a native newspaper. The man survived, and the Lakeland police referred to as the capturing unintended and cleared Mr. Dunn of any wrongdoing.

In July 2018, Mr. Dunn hosted a rally at his retailer to counter a close by March for Our Lives rally, which referred to as for motion in opposition to gun violence after 17 folks had been shot and killed at a South Florida highschool, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

Back to top button