A Mississippi Police Officer Targeted the Wrong House and Ended Up Killing Ismael López

Jul 31, 2017
5:29 PM

Ismael López. Photo taken from Samantha Holmes’ GoFundMe website. (Used with permission.)


A police officer from Southaven, Mississippi, shot and killed Ismael López, 41, at López’s house last Sunday, July 23.

The incident occurred close to midnight when a woman called the police to report a domestic violence assault at one of the houses at Surrey Lane in Southaven, a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. The police approached the wrong house and killed López instead, according to district attorney, John Champion.

As police were approaching López’s house, a pit bull came outside, startling one of the police officers, who fired a shot at the dog. The other police officer noticed that there was a gun from inside the house aiming at him. The police officer asked López several times to drop the gun, but “that did not occur and there was more than one shot fired towards the door” leaving López dead, Champion said during a press conference as reported by Commercial Appeal.

Champion made clear that López did not have any criminal charges or “any arrest warrants and he [López] was not wanted for anything at all.”

Murray Wells, López family’s lawyer, revealed on Saturday that López was shot in the back of his head with one bullet, according to an examination of the body. This raised questions about whether López was holding a gun aimed at the police officer, as Champion claimed.

Latino Rebels spoke with a close friend of López and his wife Claudia Linares. Her name is Kika. She asked to not be identified by her full name.

“I truly believe that Ismael was not pointing that gun to the police. In my mind, that can’t be possible. Ismael was a very rational man,” Kika said in a phone interview.

Champion said one gun was found at López’ house.

Samantha Marie Holmes, a close family friend, confirmed that López owned at least two guns. Holmes’ boyfriend Chris used to work with López at the auto mechanic shop located in front of López’s house.

“One gun was in his bedroom and the other one was on his couch nowhere near him,” Holmes told Latino Rebels over the phone.

At this moment, the police have not made any comments on the ongoing investigation. The two police officers’ identity has not been released.

Southhaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite released a statement on Twitter, saying the city will not take any actions or form any judgement until all facts and complete information are considered.

At the request of López’s son, Rodolfo, Holmes helped set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the family. According to Holmes, Claudia wants to take López back to Veracruz, Mexico, where he was originally from. People have already donated more that $2,700 at the time of this posting.

Prior to López’s funeral last Saturday, the community rallied outside the Southhaven police station to demand justice. “If we don’t come out to put pressure, this will continue happening,” José Salazar, an activist told Latino Rebels. Salazar did not know López directly but was close to some of López’s friends.

“They not only took away a husband from Claudia, but they took away a friend from my family. This is a sad loss,” Kika told Latino Rebels. According to Kika, Claudia and her lawyer are waiting for a response from the police. They are planning to file a lawsuit and are demanding that Southaven police chief Steve Pirtle resign.

As for López’s dog, Coco, Holmes took him to the vet to recover. In addition, López’s family and friends want time to grieve.

“We want some time for us to be in peace and be able to rest,” Jordan Castillo, another close family friend, told Latino Rebels.

Castillo and other family friends are holding an event on August 5 to raise more money.

(Used with permission.)

López’s parents have already sent a message thanking those who have donated.

“Mr. Joel López and Concepción Rodriguez, parents of Ismael López Rodriguez, the man murdered by the police, thank the community of Memphis for the help to move his son’s body to his city Veracruz to see him one more time and say goodbye in the place that saw him grow up,” the statement said at the GoFundMe campaign.


María Camila Montañez is a journalism student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Spanish-language program. She is originally from Colombia and tweets from @mariacmontanez.