Michael Dunn, a City Commissioner of Lakeland FL who on October 3 shot and killed a shoplifter in his store, has been indicted and charged with second-degree murder. He was arrested at his attorney’s office yesterday evening and is being held without bail, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

As I noted in summary in my initial post regarding this matter, “the facts of this case as we know them so far . . . do not appear to legally justify Dunn’s actions.”

As reported in the Tampa Bay Times:

A Lakeland city commissioner surrendered Friday to face a second-degree murder charge in the Oct. 3 fatal shooting of a suspected shoplifter at a military surplus store.

Michael Dunn, who has served on the City Commission since January, arrived at the Polk County Jail in Bartow shortly after 6 p.m., accompanied by detectives in an unmarked car.

At a news conference a half-hour later, Polk State Attorney Brian Haas said he doesn’t believe the killing of 50-year-old Christobal Lopez was premeditated. But he also doesn’t see grounds for a self-defense claim. So he took the matter to a grand jury, which indicted Dunn.

“Let me be clear: It is the policy of my office to comply with and abide by the stand your ground law,” Haas said. “However, I have determined that this case and the actions of Mr. Dunn fall outside the protection of the stand your ground law.”

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the Lakeland Police Department referred a criminal complaint affidavit to the State Attorney’s Office nine days after the shooting.  From there, the matter was presented to a grand jury, an indictment was returned on second-degree murder, and Dunn was arrested on that murder charge seven days after the criminal referral.

Dunn now faces the potential of spending the rest of his life in prison should he be convicted of the second-degree murder charge—an outcome that is not at all unlikely—and of course the family of the dead shoplifter have already retained an attorney to file a civil suit against Dunn.

Over a $16 hatchet.

As I noted in my previous post on this matter:

Even if no charges are ever brought against Dunn, he still exposed himself to at least the potential of a murder trial, not to mention having to live with killing a man over $16.

And should charges be brought [AFB-as they now have been], and Dunn convicted, he faces perhaps the rest of his life in prison—over a $16 hatchet. I expect it isn’t hard for anyone reading this to come up with other ways Dunn could have dealt with Lopez’s theft that includes a reasonable prospect of recovering the hatchet, without resulting in Lopez’s death and Dunn’s criminal prosecution.

I urge my clients and students to contemplate before using force against another person:  will it have been worth it?

Remember, the moment you engage forcibly with another person, you’ve immediately incurred two risks that you were not incurring a moment before: A greater than zero risk of dying in that fight and a greater than zero risk of spending much of the rest of your life in prison.

I urge you to make sure the stakes are worth the risks.


Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

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