'A storm coming:' Attorneys demand answers as Southaven police shooting investigation drags on
SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC) - Attorneys are still seeking answers in the case of Ismael Lopez, who was shot and killed by Southaven police in July.
Documents state that Southaven police officers had a search warrant for the house across the street from Lopez's home on the day he was killed.
Attorneys Aaron Neglia and Murray Wells are now pleading with Southaven Police Department and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation to wrap up their investigation.
Wells said the five-month investigation period is "abnormal," in their experience of dealing with MBI and TBI investigations.
"We will not wait a year," he said. "There is no rational explanation for why it takes five months to release these findings. We suspect it's more about letting this matter fade into the mist."
Wells noted that while state investigations typically take longer, this one is an exception because of the nature of the investigation. He said investigations tend to be drawn out when investigators need to gather scientific data or witness statements--both of which don't apply to the case.
Wells also noted the case of Darrius Stewart, of which the information came back in 1.5 months had even more evidence to consider than the Lopez case.
The family attorneys said they have reached out to top investigators, the attorney general, and SPD on multiple occasions to seek information.
The name of the officers involved in the shooting have not been released. Wells said, however, that through process of elimination, they know who likely fired the shot.
Wells is also concerned with the lack of information made public, such as a heavily-redacted police report. He wants SPD to respond to the shooting before they file a lawsuit. At least, he said, they could offer an apology to the family.
Wells said there is a historical basis for bad behavior within SPD, and suggested the investigation hasn't come back because of fear of the backlash from the results.
"I think they know there is going to be a storm coming," he said.
He said he believes there will be a massive national, public inspection when the details are released, and that officials don't want to deal with the backlash until the story has become buried.
WMC Action News 5 investigators reached out to SPD, MBI, and the District Attorney's Office, but all refused to comment while the investigation is underway.
The attorneys for Lopez's family have shown WMC Action News 5 video from inside the house that they said conflicts with the official police report.
Attorneys also have photos of the home where Lopez was killed.
Previous photos released by attorneys show three bullet holes in the front door of the home.
Officers said Lopez came to his front door and pointed a gun at them. They said they shot him after asking him multiple times to drop the gun.
Lopez's wife disputed the officers' report. She said she never heard officers tell Lopez to drop a gun. In fact, she said Lopez did not even have a gun on him when he was killed.
Wells acknowledges the presence of a rifle in the house, but said Lopez did not have it in his possession when police officers arrived. Plus, Well said Lopez never even opened the door--so he couldn't have pointed it at officers.
"This is that case where you should investigate whether there was bad behavior on the side of the Southaven Police Department," Wells said.
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