Michael Dunn’s resignation, effective immediately, means Gov. Scott won’t have to take steps to remove him from the Lakeland City Commission less than a year after being elected. City commissioners on Friday will discuss next steps on appointing a replacement and holding a subsequent special election. Also today, Dunn had a second appearance before a judge — this time accompanied by his lawyer. Bond is still denied after he was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the death of a shoplifter at his store.
Crime / Justice
City Commissioner Michael Dunn has been indicted by a grand jury on a 2nd-degree murder charge in the shooting death of a man attempting to shoplift a hatchet from Dunn’s store. The first-degree felony charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. It is expected that Gov. Scott will suspend him from office.
- Video: News conference with State Attorney Brian Haas and Police Chief Larry Giddens (via ABC Action News)
- Video: Dunn arrives at jail (via Tampa Bay Times)
- ABC Action News: In affidavit, police say victim did not threaten Dunn.
- Fox 13: Affidavit text | Indictment text
10 News talked with several associates of City Commissioner Michael Dunn about the video released Monday that shows him shooting and killing a shoplifter at his store:
- Gun rights advocate Ryan Thomas, owner of Tampa Carry, said, “Just because you’re a nice person doesn’t mean that you don’t make a mistake in the heat of the moment. … In my opinion, it is not a situation that a gun should have been pulled, shown to the customer or discharged.”
- Joan Peterson, a longtime friend and Dunn’s barber, said the video isn’t as incriminating as some say because it shows he “did everything that he could to keep him within the store.” She added Dunn has been upset and unable to eat.
Monday’s release of dramatic surveillance video in the Michael Dunn shooting case has generated coverage from national and even international news organizations. Some, like The New York Times, added their own reporting to the story of the first-term Lakeland city commissioner shooting and killing a suspected shoplifter at his store, Vets Army Navy Surplus on North Florida Avenue.
As the investigation into the Oct. 3 fatal shooting at City Commissioner Michael Dunn’s Vets Army Navy Surplus continues, the Lakeland Police Department released surveillance video this morning. If you have trouble viewing the article, see the video on YouTube. And repeating warnings from both LPD and The Ledger: The images may be disturbing.
Tampa Bay Times reports two attorneys they talked with say the video will make it difficult for Dunn to argue he feared for his life when he fired. Similarly, Clearwater defense attorney and former prosecutor Kevin Hayslett tells Bay News 9, “The law specifically says you cannot, I repeat, cannot use deadly force to protect a property crime.”
Ledger reporters John Chambliss and Kimberly C. Moore follow up on several angles of Wednesday’s fatal shooting of a shoplifting suspect by City Commissioner Michael Dunn. Among them:
- Dunn attorney Rusty Franklin says the shooting was justifiable since victim Christobal Lopez was holding the hatchet he had taken from Dunn’s military surplus store.
- Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens decided his department will continue investigating the case and will decide whether charges will be filed rather than turning it over to another agency.
- And this: “Dunn fired two shots. It’s unclear where Lopez was hit, how close the two were to each other and where exactly the shooting occurred in the store at 819 N. Florida Ave. Lopez died outside the front door of the business.”
City Commissioner Michael Dunn shot and killed a man he accused of trying to steal a hatchet from his store, Vets Army Navy at 819 N. Florida Ave., this afternoon, according to the Lakeland Police Department.
The victim was identified as Cristobal Lopez, 50. Police said as Lopez’ father was making a purchase around 2:30 p.m., Dunn accused the younger Lopez of trying to hide a hatchet and leave the store with it.
The Second District Court of Appeals has been hearing cases in Tampa since the court’s Lakeland headquarters building was declared uninhabitable in 2016. In an editorial, The Tampa Bay Times argues the court should stay in Tampa. Half of the court’s business originates in the Tampa Bay region and 41 percent of the population of the 13-county district lives in the bay area, the newspaper points out. Pork chop politics in the Legislature landed the court in Lakeland and is clouding reason in the debate on where to house the court, the editorial states, concluding that “all Lakeland has to commend it as a legal center now is inertia.”
- Keely Rai Oltmanns, 15, of Lakeland, died Tuesday evening when the car she was riding in failed to stop at a flashing red signal north of Dade City | Tampa Bay Times
- A 22-year-old convenience store co-owner faces charges after video captured him shooting into the car of a fleeing beer thief | WFLA
- The city of Lakeland says it is accelerating efforts to place more security cameras in Barnett Park following an arrest near the playground | WFLA