Lakeland commissioner accused of killing shoplifter gets new high profile attorney

Victim's family responds publicly
Posted at 5:26 PM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 20:38:27-04

POLK COUNTY, Fla — The surveillance video seen around the country has now moved to a Polk County courtroom.

The man who kept George Zimmerman out of prison is now the attorney for former Lakeland Commissioner Michael Dunn.

Dunn’s bond has been paid and he is expected to get out of jail sometime Thursday night or Friday morning. 

His family filled every seat in the courtroom Thursday as they watched Dunn stand in front of a judge with his new high profile attorney, Mike O’Mara. He represented Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin.

The family of Christobal Lopez was not in the crowd. Their attorney, Adam Kemp, said the family didn’t need to be there and didn’t want to be in the same room as Dunn. 

"Their grieving, they lost a son, a brother, a family member that they loved and cared for,” Kemp said. He’s representing the family on the civil side things.

O’Mara and his team spent time during the hour and a half long hearing recounting the moments before Dunn pulled the trigger and killed Lopez. 

O’Mara had a witness reenact what happened with a similar hatchet.

“You look at that hatchet and you have to believe that, as everyone else who sees it, it’s a deadly weapon and when he decided to arm himself with a deadly weapon, that things could happen to you,” O’Mara said.

But Kemp says the security video shows that Lopez attempted to get away.

"Nothing that I saw, saw Mr. Lopez being aggressive towards him or threatening his life in any way,” he said. 

He hopes the outcome of this case will send a message that you can not use deadly force to protect personal property.

"Nobody deserves to lose their life over $13 or $16 hatchet,” Kemp said, confident Dunn will be convicted. “You should ultimately be held accountable for your decisions and we believe this was a senseless, preventable act.”

Dunn’s family is relieved he is going home, but life will be different. He can’t go to the military surplus store he co-owns because he can’t be around guns. 

"I wish he wasn’t on house arrest but he’s out,” said O’Mara. "He gets back to his family and as importantly, he gets to work with us to get ready for the defense of the case because obviously there’s a lot to look into and a lot to get prepared for with the charges as serious as they are.”

The Lakeland City Commission will discuss the next steps and the process of replacing Dunn during a meeting on Friday, October 26 at 8 a.m. The meeting will take place at Lakeland City Hall located at 228 South Massachusetts Avenue.