Man shot dead by police officers who went to the wrong house

OXFORD, MS – A federal court jury in Mississippi has dismissed a civil lawsuit against two police officers. The officers in question were involved in a fatal shooting of a man in 2017. The lawsuit was filed by Claudia Linares, the widow of Ismael Lopez, who was seeking $20 million in damages. The jury concluded that Southaven officers Zachary Durden and Samuel Maze did not violate Lopez’s civil rights when Durden shot him while serving a warrant at the wrong address.

The case drew attention as the city of Southaven had previously argued that Lopez, a Mexican national living in the U.S. illegally, had no civil rights to violate. This argument was dismissed by a judge in 2020, who ruled that constitutional rights apply to all persons.

The incident occurred when the officers mistakenly went to Lopez’s residence instead of the intended address across the street. According to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Lopez and Linares were in bed when the officers knocked on their door. The officers claimed that Lopez pointed a rifle through the cracked door, prompting Maze to shoot a dog that ran out, and Durden to fire multiple shots at Lopez.

The city of Southaven and the now-retired Southaven Police Chief Steve Pirtle were dismissed from the case in June after a Senior U.S. District Judge found they were not liable for the officers’ actions under federal law.

Lopez’s lawyers disputed the officers’ account, noting that his fingerprints and DNA were not found on the rifle, which was recovered more than six feet away from his body. They suggested that Durden shot Lopez because he was reacting to Maze shooting the dog.

Following the shooting, a state grand jury declined to indict anyone in the case. Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite expressed his condolences to Lopez’s family but praised the verdict, stating that the officers responded appropriately considering the circumstances.