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A city commissioner in central Florida was charged with murdering second-degree murder over the death of a suspected shoplifter in his military surplus shop earlier this month, prosecutors said Friday. The Oct. 3 shooting was captured on storage surveillance and showed Lakeland city commissioner Michael Dunn, the Christobal Lopez, 50, at the front door of Dunns Veterinarian Army. Marine surplus shoots.
Dunn was seen attacking Lopez, a farm worker, when he tried to attack a semi-automatic Glock. Lopez held a hatchet in his right hand, which was part of the store, police said, but was not seen in the video that physically threatened Dunn.
Dunn, who was housed in the Polk County jail, has not commented on the incident, which has caught the attention of Florida's "stand your ground" law, which was passed in 2005 with the support of gun lobbyists. His lawyer has previously said that they have not decided whether they want to invoke the law.
Lakeland's police said in a sworn statement that Dunn does not indicate that Lopez made any threats and that he shot Lopez twice. One shot hit Lopez on the left side of his body and the other on his back, the police said.
Dunn allegedly said he was afraid, but when he was asked by the police what would have happened if he had let Lopez loose, Dunn replied, "It would be fair to say that if I just step back and let someone come and take what they want, that there would be no problem, "the affidavit of the police said. Dunn did not help either, police said, and for all these reasons, the police said the shooting was unjustified, the affidavit says.
"It is the policy of my office to comply with the" stand your ground "law and I have stated that this case and Mr. Dunn's actions fall outside the protection of the Stand Your Ground Law," said prosecutor Brian Haas according to NBC Affiliate WFLA of Tampa.
Dunn's lawyer, Rusty Franklin, said The video shows Lopez with an ax, and the use of force was justified.
"He had no choice but to protect himself, and hopefully we hope this trial will prove and we'll prove it in a courtroom media," Franklin said.
A lawyer for Lopez's family said in a statement to WFLA that they hope to file justice through both the criminal case and a civil suit they plan to do. They called the killing "pointless" and said it was an "unnecessary and monstrous use of deadly force."
Floridians can justify the use of deadly force if they believe their lives are in danger, and the law does not require the gun owner to first try to flee the scene before the trigger is triggered.
Second-degree murder carries a maximum prison term.