New developments that could affect the Southaven Police-Ismael Lopez shooting case


Ismael Lopez

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SOUTHAVEN, MS - New information in the Southaven police shooting that left a man dead almost a year ago.

The Southaven Police Chief says one of the officers involved in the shooting has left the department. The other is on desk duty.

Two officers, who have not been identified, were involved in the shooting death of Ismael Lopez last July.

They ended up at the wrong house and shot and killed Lopez. But WREG has also uncovered there may finally be some answers in what happened in that shooting.

Ismael Lopez's family still lives in the home where he was shot and killed by Southaven police last July.
They are still waiting for information on how police ended up at the wrong house and Lopez ended up dead.

"This is frustrating, very frustrating. Anger. I think we are over the part of being sad," said Neuva Vida Church Pastor Rolando Rostro.

He says after a year the community is left wondering what is really going on.

"It cannot be that almost over a year we still don't have all the information we need to have. All the officers that were involved, to what degree are they being held accountable by all this," said Rostro.

The case has been turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. District Attorney John Champion says he has been waiting 10 months for the State Crime Lab to return Ismael Lopez's autopsy and he has 3 other cases on hold too.
He told us in February it was leading to big problems around the state.

"I would call it a crisis," said Champion in February.

The crisis is in staffing at the Lab near Jackson.
When we last reported the story 3 months, the lab was down to 1 person. It had become a revolving door with people leaving for better-paying jobs.

Champion says one of those who moved to another state was the doctor handling Ismael Lopez's autopsy.

Now they are waiting for her to get to her Mississippi cases in addition to work she has to now do in a new job.

"I believe this is becoming a crisis within the state that needs to be addressed sooner than later," said Champion.

But WREG has learned the state may finally be listening.
After failed efforts to change how salaries are set, Mississippi lawmakers are pushing more money to the Medical Examiner's Office.
Mississippi's Lieutenant Governor Jonathon Tate Reeves told WREG just how much.

"We had a legislative session that just ended in March and in that session, the current fiscal year we are spending about 450-thousand dollars in the Medical Examiners Office. We increased that to 1.2 million dollars starting in the new budget year," said Reeves.

That money will help hire additional staff and decrease the backlog in the thousands of cases that the M-E's office handles from 82 counties.

"Medical examiners are very challenging to find, challenging to recruit and retain in our state and every other state. But that is a critical need in our state. We have identified it and we are now going to spend the resources to get it done," said Reeves.

It can't be soon enough for families waiting for answers.

"If it was any other civilian against civilian this would have been open and closed already, done. The D.A. would have had all the information they needed to have. But this is the police department doing it on civilians," said Rostro.  "This is an injustice done to a human being. This a murder that occurred in Southaven and somebody needs to pay for that. "

We called the Medical Examiner doing the autopsy at her new office in Maine.
She has not returned our call.

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