‘Disturbing’: Attorney, family frustrated by investigators’ silence on Ismael Lopez case

No details released since police killed wrong man 1 year ago
Published: Jul. 23, 2018 at 10:13 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2018 at 4:39 AM CDT
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SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC) - It's been one year since police in Southaven shot and killed Ismael Lopez.

Lopez's autopsy was completed last month, but the details of the autopsy have not been released.

Officials said the delay stemmed in part from the fact that the medical examiner who did the autopsy moved to Maine.

The completed autopsy has since sent to district attorney John Champion.

Lopez was a father and husband who was shot and killed after Southaven police officers went to the wrong house, according to multiple reports.

The officers said Lopez was carrying a gun when he opened the door and refused to put it down.

The attorney for the Lopez family, Murray Wells, said the police story is not accurate. He believes his investigative team gathered enough information to come to a conclusion without seeing the autopsy.

He said the door was closed and officers shot Lopez in the back of the head.

"We have a theory, not confirmed yet, that the dog was at the door, they shot through the door to shoot the dog and hit Ismael Lopez," Wells said.

Of the officers involved, one quit the force and the other is on desk duty.

Champion said after he reviews the autopsy, he will decide whether to present his findings to a grand jury or clear the officers.

Wells said it is extremely frustrating and disturbing that investigative officials have been silent about the case.

"Now one year later, no answers, no why, no who, now how come, no 'we're sorry,' no 'we regret the fact it happened,'" Wells said.

Wells said there have been more indignities suffered by Claudia Lopez, Ismael's wife, who was in the house the night officers killed Lopez.

"She was handcuffed and drug past her husband's body on the floor and then she was made to stand by a tree in her night things for over an hour, then she was taken and put in a police car and no one gave her answers," Wells said.

The most important question Wells said she did not get an answer to until much later that night was if her husband was alive or if he survived his injuries.

Wells said she found out hours after being interrogated by Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents that Ismael was dead.

"She was put in the back of a police car and taken to the station and for hours begged to understand what is going on," Wells said.

Wells said it is beyond frustrating that the family cannot get any information on the investigation. They also cannot find out if the case has gone to a grand jury or if there was an indictment of the two Southaven police officers.

"We are left a year later with exactly the same we had before," Wells said. "We have the same answers which we had to discover for ourselves."

Wells said the final insult was Southaven denying records to Claudia and questioning her marriage to Ismael.

"Not only did your husband die at the hands of our officers, we're going to make a baseless nonfactual claim that you're not allowed to learn about the cause of death because you're not married," Wells said.

Their marriage license is dated February 3, 2003.

Mississippi does not recognize common law marriages, according to a motion filed on behalf of the city of Southaven.

"Our legislature has not extended the rights enjoyed by married people to those who choose merely to cohabit."

Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite wrote in part in a statement that the city of Southaven will issue a statement after D.A. John Champion concludes his investigation.

It also appears Champion has completed his investigation and said he will reveal the results soon.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.