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Update: Mark O’Mara Joins Legal Team for Shoplifter Shooter Michael Dunn

Update: Mark O’Mara Joins Legal Team for Shoplifter Shooter Michael Dunn

O’Mara is best known for his stellar defense, along with Don West, of George Zimmerman

The Orlando Sentinel newspaper reports today that Attorney Mark O’Mara has joined the legal team for Michael Dunn, the Florida man who recently shot and killed apparent shoplifter Cristobal Lopez. Dunn has been charged with second-degree murder in the killing.

We previously covered the Michael Dunn case here:

Law of Self Defense: Use of Deadly Force Against Shoplifter Stealing A Hatchet (10/18/18)

UPDATE: FL Shooter of Shoplifter Charged with Murder (10/20/18)

O’Mara is perhaps best known as co-counsel along with Attorney Don West for George Zimmerman in his murder trial over the killing of Trayvon Martin. Both O’Mara and West provided a stellar legal defense for Zimmerman in a case against which Prosecutor Angela Corey threw every resource at her disposal.

Ultimately, of course, Zimmerman was justly acquitted by a unanimous jury after mere hours of deliberations, following 14 months of investigation and trial.

In separate news, the Orlando Sentinel also reports that Michael Dunn has resigned from his position as a City Commissioner for Lakeland FL.

–Andrew

Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

Learn more about self-defense law from Attorney Andrew F. Branca and Law of Self Defense LLC by visiting the Law of Self Defense Patreon page for both free and paid-access content, and by viewing his free weekly Law of Self Defense Show.

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Comments

Seems a bit strange. Why would he sign on to a lost case like this?

    Gremlin1974 in reply to RodFC. | October 25, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    We have seen a video, there could be much more evidence that we haven’t seen and O’Mara is a master of Jury selection and swaying juries.

    Olinser in reply to RodFC. | October 25, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Most likely because he has access to evidence which we do not, and which he believes will exonerate Dunn.

    Milhouse in reply to RodFC. | October 26, 2018 at 12:42 am

    He’s a lawyer. He does this for a living. Winning is nice, but it’s not as if he gets paid more if he wins than if he loses. And sometimes getting a better sentence is a win.

He did a wonderful job at the Trayvon Show Trial.

Never watch MSM but my understanding is that he was not a Featured Contributor at the Leftist Channels.

If this guy is being Trayvonned he is probably the best choice to get him off.

Video looks like it was taken by an in-store camera, not an accomplice of the deceased. While it is not the whole story, it looks pretty damning for the shooter.

    harleycowboy in reply to beagleEar. | October 27, 2018 at 10:21 am

    In the picture the shooter seems to have his left hand up in a defensive posture. The other person’s left arm is up. About to strike with the hatchet?

JustShootMeNow | October 25, 2018 at 11:25 pm

I’m betting on the prosecution on this one.

Sorry, Mark, but I think you are doing this for the publicity. Cannot see you winning this one

Wasn’t Michael Dunn also the name of the Florida “loud music” shooter?

Will it be televised online somewhere? I hope to see O’Mara in action again. He is brilliant.

Hope this gets covered right here, as the Zimmerman trial was.

Hope this gets covered right here, as the Zimmerman trial was.

    Milhouse in reply to rustyshamrock. | October 26, 2018 at 1:00 am

    This is a very different situation. That was a morality play. We all knew going in that Zimmerman was an innocent man being maliciously prosecuted for pure political reasons, basically for accidentally having the wrong name. There were clear good guys to cheer and bad guys to boo, and in the end justice was clearly served. Here, even if Dunn ends up acquitted, there’s nothing malicious about his prosecution. The prosecution and defense are both acting in good faith, and it’s not obvious who ought to win.

      rustyshamrock in reply to Milhouse. | October 26, 2018 at 1:13 am

      I’d still like to see it play out. I realize the optics are not good at the moment. But we don’t know what we don’t know. Worth following for me.

      rustyshamrock in reply to Milhouse. | October 26, 2018 at 1:13 am

      I’d still like to see it play out. I realize the optics are not good at the moment. But we don’t know what we don’t know. Worth following for me.

      Guilty until proven innocent seems to be the new liberal mantra, eh Milhouse?

        Milhouse in reply to elle. | October 26, 2018 at 10:47 am

        Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?

          “The prosecution and defense are both acting in good faith”

          If they were both acting in good faith, the detectives would have noted in their police report that Lopez hit Dunn’s gun just before Dunn fired and they would have not put the word “But” right saying that Dunn was in fear. Oh, I can go on, but I already did.
          Read that police report again. It’s not in good faith, it is leading and the narrative presented by the report doesn’t even appear to match up to what we see for ourselves in the video. It is at best a rush to judgement and at worst an attempt to scapegoat Dunn for the anti-gun cause.

          Maybe it’s time we allow Dunn the presumption of innocence that he had reasonable cause to fear for his life just prior to his shooting Lopez.

      Guilty until proven innocent seems to be the new liberal mantra, eh Milhouse?

    Drejka would be much more interesting.

We live in a society where crime is allowed by the laws. Laws never intended to give the criminals license to terrorize law biding citizens. But that is where we are at. This fellow makes a career of theft and minor assault.
Knowing he will leave confinement a day after arrest, with all profits from his crime.

Factual determinations are province of the jury. Be careful rushing to conclusions of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt based on snippets from a single security camera.

This confrontation is between a thief and a store owner. One can argue statute from now until eternity. But it will come down to whether the prosecution can convince six jurors that no reasonable man would have shot a thief holding a hatchet.

We have not seen all the security footage nor are we privy to any verbal threats the thief may have made. Threats that reasonable person would have felt the thief had the power to imminently fulfill. In the face of a threat, a deployed firearm that the holder is unwilling to use can quickly become the weapon of the thief.

    dystopia in reply to countrylaw. | October 26, 2018 at 7:02 am

    Andrew, if Dunn testifies that Lopez said “Your too chicken to shoot and I’m going to bury this hatchet in your head” — would that alter your legal analysis?

    “But it will come down to whether the prosecution can convince six jurors that no reasonable man would have shot a thief holding a hatchet.”

    Not necessarily, for two reasons.

    1) As I have pointed out, the defense here very much depends upon the wording of several statutes, all of which combine to statutorily justify Dunn’s shooting of Lopez. While a defense of person justification can be argued, and probably should be incorporated, it is relatively simple to argue that Lopez’s actions constitute a forcible felony against Dunn, which would allow Dunn to use deadly force. the question can not be allowed to be whether Dunn SHOULD have shot Lopez, but rather whether he was legally justified in doing so, under statute and law.

    2) In Florida, there is provision for a motion of immunity from prosecution due to use of force in lawful self defense. [which also applies to use of force in defense of property]. The hearing on such a motion is heard, not by a jury, but by a judge, and his decision is supposed to be based upon statute and the law.

    This will be an interesting case.

Andrew Branca refers to the “apparent” shoplifter as if we have to protect his rights even though he is dead – why not call him “alleged”.

The shooter is referred to as the killer, shooter etc. No alleged anywhere. When is the last time you saw that?

We see videos of assaults or murders every day, and the perpetrator is always referred to as alleged. But no “alleged” when someone protects himself from the “alleged” criminal.

Cone on, Andrew, you should be better than that.

    Milhouse in reply to JOHN B. | October 26, 2018 at 10:50 am

    There’s no question that he did shoot and kill him. He doesn’t dispute it. So why say it’s only alleged or apparent?

    tom_swift in reply to JOHN B. | October 26, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    refers to the “apparent” shoplifter

    The video doesn’t show anyone shoplifting. It shows a man carrying a hatchet trying to leave a building and being shot in the doorway. The shot man (who, so far as well can tell from the video, may not even be dead) may have been the legitimate owner of the hatchet, or he may have been misidentified by the shooter. “Apparent” seems an appropriate adjective, as appearance is all we can evaluate on video.

I am really happy to hear that he is getting a competent defense. Yes, the video does create an ILLUSION of murder, especially if you accept the illusion of the carefully scripted police report. So, I understand why y’all feel the way you do.

But before you condemn Dunn watch the video in slo-mo and you will see this: Dunn grabs him, likely to detain him, but to Dunn’s surprise, Lopez doesn’t simply attempt to run away, but rather he (at the very least) positions the hatchet in his right hand while he hits out at Dunn’s gun with his left. That’s not flight, that’s fight.

The police report is useless to the prosecution, as once you carefully compare it to the video, it is obvious in its attempts to frame Dunn. It is at best, a true rush to judgement or at worst, the powers-that-be saw a video that was useful to the anti-gun narrative and had no intention of letting a crisis go to waste.

O’Mara will win this case because the truth is on his side.

Everyone who supports gun rights and self-defense should applaud Mark O’Mara. I was afraid that Dunn would go down simply because no one would be willing to endure what will accompany defending Dunn. God bless him.

    elle in reply to elle. | October 26, 2018 at 8:49 am

    I would also add that everyone should thank Andrew for highlighting this case and recommend they buy Andrew’s book 🙂 as Dunn could have better helped himself by not allowing any statements that ended up being used against him. The detectives were NOT his friends.

Juror nullification. Know it. Use it when appropriate.

Juror nullification. Know it. Use it when appropriate.

precisely–the video itself belies the ” he was fleeing ” scenario put forth by the prosecution

watch the door, look at lopez’s right knee/foot, his hips, his shoulders, his upper body, his neck and his eyes–he is turning around to confront dunn with (perhaps)the intent to strike him–he is armed with a deadly weapon–dunn has to decide, in that instant, whether to shoot or not–it is dunn’s call only–not the judge’s, not the prosecutor’s, not even the jury’s–dunn’s

difficult to articulate in words but in that situation(or similar)it is a feeling or realization that comes immediately, like flipping a light switch–it’s instantaneous–and you have to act, or you’re injured or killed

    DaveGinOly in reply to texansamurai. | October 26, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    In a case like this, my mind set as a juror would go beyond legally-defined “self defense.” Although I certainly believe we have the right to defend ourselves, I believe we have a more inclusive right – the right to assure that we survive a criminal attack. To my mind, that means we do not have to wait until we know that lethal force is being, or is about to be, used against us. We have a right, when behaving peaceably and doing what we have rights to do (like defending our property), to take whatever measures are necessary to assure that we survive criminal attacks. Conversely, I believe no criminal attacker has a right to expect to be able to threaten your survival (and any criminal attack is a threat) and not suffer consequences for it. There’s a reason why criminals are called “outlaws” – their conduct during the commission of a crime puts them beyond the protection of the law (at least temporarily), and one of the consequences of being outside the protection of the law is the loss of the criminal’s right to survive the encounter.

    Self-defense is what you do when threatened with imminent assault with lethal or potentially lethal force. Assuring your survival is what you should be able to do without having to wait to see what level of force your attacker will use. Because if you wait, you may be dead before you are able to recognize the threat, or recognition of the threat may be the last thing you recognize. An apparently non-lethal attack can become lethal before you have an opportunity to react. Survival is not a game. The person who attacks you has made a decision to throw away the rules of law. Why shouldn’t the defender be able to react with the same mindset? The legal requirement to adhere to the law inhibits the defender’s natural inclination to protect himself, and puts the defender at a distinct disadvantage to his attacker, whose conduct is not similarly fettered. Is this just? I believe it is not.

    Jury nullification. One juror in the box is all it takes.

      Laws regulate how people behave toward one another in a society. Our society has enacted laws which prohibit the taking of another’s property without that person’s consent, except where exigent circumstances apply. Our society also enacted laws which regulate the level of force which may be legally used to prevent the theft of a perosn’s property. This is done, largely, to protect a person’s right to due process. The use of deadly force is therefor usually restricted to those circumstances where there is a likelihood that a person committing a criminal act will cause death or great bodily harm to his victim, or another.

      Simply picking up an article and running away with it, or sneaking it out of a store, is not very likely to result in death or great bodily harm to the owner of the property, or anyone else. So, most jurisdictions have banned the use of deadly force to prevent such thefts. Robbery is a different story. As robbery involves force directed against the owner or possessor or property in order to remove that property from that person’s custody, the likelihood of the victim suffering death or great bodily harm is greatly increased. This is why many jurisdictions allow deadly force to be used to thwart the imminent commission of a robbery, and other forcible felonies. Recognizing the differing threat levels involved is why legislatures do not allow one to shoot someone who commits a simple theft but does authorize them to shoot someone who is directing force against them to steal an item.

      In order to operate within the law, one must know the law. That is why it is incumbent upon people who run a risk of having to use deadly force against another, to become conversant with the laws governing the use of said force.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Mac45. | October 26, 2018 at 6:51 pm

        “In order to operate within the law, one must know the law. That is why it is incumbent upon people who run a risk of having to use deadly force against another, to become conversant with the laws governing the use of said force.”

        Best point yet.

Regarding comments about why O’Mara took on this ‘loser case’: As an attorney, what case would you rather try, a close case that could go either way; or a clear loser with everything to gain?

I vividly remember the first case I lost. As the marshall led my sobbing client away in cuffs after the verdict, I thought “Damn. They didn’t teach how to handle this crap in law school . . .”.

I should be able to use whatever force is necessary to secure my property. Once you break the rules you’ve broken the social contract and now it’s about force.
If you don’t want to get shot don’t steal my stuff. Pretty easy concept.
Come on my land and act a fool I will feed you to the pigs, and they’ll eat everything but the teeth which will be lost in the mud.
Now all I need to do is dispose of your truck and cell phone.

Trust me on this, it came very near to happening to some damn g woman who I caught snooping around down here. But I had more fun scaring the crap out of her. She panicked and hit a tree on the way out in her brand new government car. Haven’t seen hide nor hair of her since.

It will be interesting to see what O’Mara brings to the defense as well as what defense will be used. Also, it will be interesting to see if the defense files for an immunity hearing.

Dunn was well advised to resign from his elected office. As he has been charged with a felony crime, he would likely have been removed from his position by the Governor anyway.

An instant before Dunn fires Lopez reaches for his gun and deflects the muzzle to the side. Lopez going for his gun, actually contacting his gun, is a very clear imminent danger. The danger that initiated the shooting was not the hatchet, though the hatchet did contribute to the level of danger. (Imagine fighting for control of your gun with someone who has a hatchet in his other hand.)

The immediacy with which the shots follow Lopez’ contact with Dunn’s gun clarifies that this is what he was reacting to. So I predict that the case is going to come down to the issues that I urged Andrew earlier to address: does the fact that Dunn was engaged in legal efforts to stop Lopez’s theft using less than lethal force damage his claims to innocence or avoidance in the self-defense case?

Will a jury convict a hard working productive citizen for murder because he was trying to stop a criminal from taking a deadly weapon? Did the store owner have the responsibility not to allow this dangerous felon out of the store with a deadly weapon to use on other citizens? I served on juries and the opinions are pretty diverse. You have the juror with the strong personality and you have jurors who just want to get out of there. If O’Mara gets the right jury he just may get an acquittal.

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