Get your ass to jail, Michael Dunn. Murdering someone over shoplifting, when he was in no danger whatsoever? He didn’t even render aid. Depraved monster, just stood and watched a man lay dying. And the smirking on the mugshot is disgusting.
LAKELAND — A Lakeland city commissioner surrendered Friday to face a second-degree murder charge in the Oct. 3 fatal shooting of a suspected shoplifter at a military surplus store.
Michael Dunn, who has served on the City Commission since January, arrived at the Polk County Jail in Bartow shortly after 6 p.m., accompanied by detectives in an unmarked car.
At a news conference a half-hour later, Polk State Attorney Brian Haas said he doesn’t believe the killing of 50-year-old Christobal Lopez was premeditated. But he also doesn’t see grounds for a self-defense claim. So he took the matter to a grand jury, which indicted Dunn.
“Let me be clear: It is the policy of my office to comply with and abide by the stand your ground law,” Haas said. “However, I have determined that this case and the actions of Mr. Dunn fall outside the protection of the stand your ground law.”
Dunn did not answer questions shouted by reporters; nor did he make eye contact. He looked somber, his head bowed. His hands were cuffed behind him. He was fingerprinted, searched and ordered held without bail.
He could make his first appearance in court this weekend. If convicted of the charge, he could face up to life in prison.
The indictment came five days after surveillance video of the fatal encounter was released to the media.
Dunn, 47, reported seeing Lopez pocket a hatchet the afternoon of Oct. 3 inside the Army Navy Vets Surplus store that the commissioner co-owns in Lakeland. Lopez, an agricultural laborer, had entered the store with his father, police said.
Dunn asked Lopez if he was going to purchase the item, police said.
Video from inside store shows Dunn holding a gun in his right hand as Lopez tries to advance toward the door. Dunn pushes Lopez with his left arm, and Lopez tries to leave again.
Still pointing the gun at Lopez, Dunn grabs at Lopez’s shoulder from behind, as Lopez makes it out the door, the video shows. Lopez raises his left arm in an apparent attempt to break free, and Dunn appears to fire.
Lopez falls to the pavement.
Dunn’s attorney, Rusty Franklin, has previously told reporters that Dunn was justified in shooting Lopez because he was holding a hatchet during the scuffle. In the video, an object is visible in Lopez’s right hand.
Just nine days passed before the Lakeland Police Department referred a criminal complaint affidavit to the State Attorney’s Office, Police Chief Larry Giddens said, joining Haas at the news conference.
“In those few days,” Giddens said, “the scene was processed, all witnesses were interviewed, the victim’s family was interviewed, the defendant’s statement was obtained, multiple reports were written.
“The Medical Examiner’s Office conducted their investigation, the surveillance video was downloaded and then compiled so it could be viewed.”
The arrest came 16 days after the shooting.