Southaven police officers found not liable for fatally shooting man with no warrants at wrong house

Ismael Lopez (Source: Family)
Ismael Lopez (Source: Family)
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:28 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (WMC) - Two Southaven police officers involved in the 2017 death of Ismael Lopez have been found not liable, according to court records filed Thursday.

Lopez, 45, was shot and killed by a Southaven police officer in 2017. Officers went to the wrong mobile home while serving a warrant for domestic violence and the encounter turned deadly.

The warrant was intended for Samuel Pearman, a man who lived across the street from Lopez.

The case was reviewed by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Protesters call for justice for Ismael Lopez

According to the MBI report, on July 24, 2017, Lopez was in bed with his wife, Claudia Linares, when officers knocked on the door.

The report says police could hear footsteps heading toward the door, then the porch light went off, the door opened, a dog ran out and Lopez pointed a rifle out of the opened door.

SPD Officer Samuel Maze fired once at the dog and SPD Officer Zachery Durden fired multiple times at Lopez, who was shot as he ran from the door.

Linares told MBI investigators through a translator that she ran to the living room after hearing gunshots and saw Lopez on the floor. She said she was taken outside and handcuffed.

A third officer, Sergeant Thomas Jones, was at the scene but didn’t fire his weapon. He told investigators he heard Durden ordered Lopez to drop the rifle several times before shots were fired.

According to the MBI report, Maze said he and Durden checked the home for “additional threats,” cuffed Lopez, who was “breathing laboriously,” and began trying to render aid until another officer arrived.

Lopez died at the scene. When state investigators arrived at the crime scene, they saw Lopez lying in a prone position with his hands cuffed behind his back in the middle of the living room floor. A rifle was positioned on the couch.

The autopsy revealed he died from a gunshot wound to the base of his skull.

A grand jury declined to indict the officers, who investigators say never identified themselves. The family requested a federal civil rights investigation, but the U.S. Department of Justice declined to take action because federal investigators believed the case was unwinnable.

In 2019, after MBI’s findings were released, Lopez’s attorneys and widow filed a lawsuit against the city of Southaven, the Southaven Police Department and its officers alleging Lopez was wrongfully and unconstitutionally killed by the officers.

According to a verdict out of a federal court in Mississippi, neither Durden nor Maze was found guilty of violating Lopez’ Fourth Amendment rights against excessive force by a police officer.

The ruling can be read in full here.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.