Detectives release video of interview conducted after Lakeland store shooting

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The State Attorney’s Office released transcripts Tuesday of the law enforcement interview of former Lakeland Commissioner Michael Dunn the night he shot a suspected shoplifter.

Dunn has been charged with second-degree murder.

Dunn has not spoken out publicly since the incident, so this is the first time we have heard his thoughts on what happened.

The interview took place about four hours after Dunn grabbed Cristobal Lopez's shirt as he tried to exit Dunn's store, Vet’s Army Navy Surplus on South Florida Avenue in Lakeland.

Dunn shot Lopez, who ended up in the parking lot where he died.

“I mean, I wish it didn’t happen, but it’s, it is the case,” Dunn told detectives.

Dunn said he feared for his life because Lopez was holding a hatchet that he had picked up in the store.

Detectives asked Dunn what he thought would have happened if he had just let go of Lopez’s shirt.

“It might be fair to say if I just stepped back and let somebody come in and take what they want, that there would be no issue,” he responded.

However, he told detectives that he had a lot of experience with shoplifters.

“If I was going to guess, as far as stopping shoplifters either there or in the store or chase, probably a dozen, I would venture to say,” Dunn said. “Throughout history, we have always prosecuted for any shoplifter, and then we would traditionally get a trespass authorization on them as well.”

Detectives asked Dunn if he tried to help Lopez after he was shot.

“No... I felt it was best to stand back and secure the area,” he said. “And I am not qualified to give aid, so that would be another reason."

Dunn could face up to life in prison if he is convicted.