July 26 (UPI) — Close to midnight on Sunday, Southaven, Miss., police arrived at the wrong house to serve an arrest warrant and shot a man dead in his own home, according to reports.
Ismael Lopez, 41, was shot dead late Sunday night after he checked to see who was at his front door. But the police were supposed to be across the street to serve an arrest warrant for Samuel Pearman, who was wanted on an assault charge, reported WREG.
“Someone didn’t take the time to analyze the address,” said Murray Wells, the attorney representing Lopez’s family. “This is incredibly tragic and embarrassing to this police department that they can’t read house numbers.”
DeSoto County Prosecutor John Champion said it was “possible” that police went to the wrong house and confirmed that Lopez’s name was not on the warrant.
“He was not wanted for anything at all,” Champion said of Lopez. “I want to make that abundantly clear.”
But police officers said they were forced to shoot Lopez when he opened his front door and his pet pit bull charged at them. Police said they opened fire at the dog and saw Lopez holding a gun from behind his door.
“One of the officers did fire a shot at the pit bull dog. While this was going on, they also noticed at the time that a gun was pointed outside the residence,” Champion said. “At this point, the officers began hollering ‘put the gun down, put the gun down,’ at which point that did not occur and there were more than one shot was fired toward the door and there was a male subject inside the residence that was killed.”
Speaking on behalf of the Lopez family, Jordan Castillo, 23, told the Commercial Appeal that Lopez’s wife disputed the police version of events. He said police began firing through a closed door and that Lopez never picked up his firearm, which she said was found by police in the usual spot he always keeps it in the living room.
“She said when he got up, she heard the footsteps all the way up to the door, she heard the doorknob turn, and then after the doorknob turned it was just gunshots from there,” Castillo said.
“Bullet holes suggest they shot through the door,” Wells said.
According to Wells, Lopez had lived in the neighborhood for 13 years and worked as an auto mechanic for the city of Bartlett, about 23 miles away.
“The only time the police had ever been there was when they had been robbed,” he said.
The officer who killed Lopez has been placed on leave during the investigation.