Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dallas cop may become first DPD officer charged for on-duty shooting since 1973 (UPDATED)

Dallas police Officer Cardan Spencer, who shot a mentally ill man then filed a false police report regarding the circumstances has been fired and now faces could face aggravated assault charges, the Dallas News reported today. (Or not; see the update below.) The department also raised questions about why Spencer's partner backed up his erroneous report:
The two officers said Spencer shot Bennett outside his home after he stepped toward them and threatened them with a knife. But a neighborhood surveillance video cast doubt on that sequence of events, and an initial charge against Bennett was dropped.

“There were no two steps,” Brown said, noting that investigators also reviews dash-cam footage of the shooting. “There was no raising of the knife.”

[Officer Christopher] Watson claimed “acute stress” may have colored his statement after his partner shot Bennett, but the chief cast doubt on that explanation and called for a supplemental internal affairs investigation into the officer’s actions.

“We were really taken aback that the first statement written by Officer Watson was not what happened,” [Dallas Police Chief David] Brown said.
Hard to interpret these events any other way than Spencer covering his own ass through a false report and Watson similarly covering for Spencer. If there had been no home surveillance video, who thinks anyone would have believed witnesses contradicting the officers' accounts? According to the Dallas Observer, this is would be the first time since 1973 a Dallas police officer has faced criminal charges related to an on-duty shooting.

See related Grits coverage. UPDATE: Remarkably, a district judge refused to sign the arrest warrant, the DMN said in an update to the above-linked story, so the DA will now take the case to a grand jury. That doesn't happen often. If police had video of you or I doing the same thing, do you think any judge in Texas would have hesitated to sign the warrant? Press reports so far have not named the judge who turned down the warrant application. That information needs to be made public.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Had the citizen video not shown up, the dashcam would never have surfaced either. They would have claimed malfunctioning video recording, and no one would question that the units were not repaired or replaced. (Like my last three officers testified when they were missing video evidence that should have been their). Hopefully the tide will continue turning and more citizens will take advantage of inexpensive video equipment.

Lee said...

I am still trying to understand the recent police shootings. Like in your previous post you discussed the dangerousness of the job, I still continue to wonder is every civilian out their with their hands in their pockets or holding a dark object really a threat to every cop. Look at this story from CNN about police killing a 13 year old kid for playing with a toy gun on the sidewalk (http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/24/justice/california-fake-rifle-boy-killed/index.html?hpt=ju_c2). Do we need to better train our civilians how to deal with cops or better train our cops to deal with civilians?

Ryan Paige said...

Given that the judge refused to approve the arrest warrant, it's entirely possible that Officer Spencer will never actually face charges.

The very same evidence was enough for a judge to charge the victim with aggravated assault, but police officers are, apparently according to this judge, above the law.

ckikerintulia said...

So if the guy had a knife--or something--two well trained and physically fit police officers should certainly have been able to disarm the guy w/o the use of deadly force.

South Tex said...

I say jack him for lying. No need for that in Law Enforcement.

On another note, @9:43 next time you see a guy with a knife go ahead and try and disarm him see what happens.

Btw...do it without breaking anything. Cuz you'll get sued.

Anonymous said...

Its getting worse. They confronted him they made that choice they could've walked back .why shoot him dead? is that the only thing they teach cops. Killl

Anonymous said...

No Race Card played by now? No bands of youts going wild and tearring some shit up?

That's right, because he's classified (profiled) as a cracker, honky, whiteman, wood etc... And, honestly, when is the last time you've seen the pigment challenged stand up for any wrong doings by the police, as one? It's becaue if they do, they are labled as racist as for those that don't, they are too busy working or wimps or, just don't read or, watch the news. The Panthers rise up when and only when it involves similar shades of the color wheel, it's expected and appriciated. When they don't we wonder where in the hell are they? They are heroes but only to a limited classification of humans.

So far, the only people to stand up in this recent crime, is the neighbor, the mother & Dallas Police Chief. Two so-called black's & one so-called white and no Hispanics, or, Marshains as of yet. There's still time, but, don't hold your breath. Because we the people are so damn divided, we are our own worst enimies.

The point is, it's 2013 and we the people are allowing ourselves to be profiled, classified & placed in tiny racial boxes regarding everything from crime, political affiliation, churches, etc., & it's our own damn fault.

Wrong is wrong and when an Investigation (is actually performed we should rejoice because it's something that police only do when they have to) reveals a Conspiracy was comitted by two or more people,like it or not, it's a crime. When the Police Union comes out like this jerk did, we all just expect it and move along. When an anonymous Judge conspires with the criminal(s) we just act like it's bidness as usual.

Grits, is 100% correct, we need his / her name so we can take a look and see who's pockets' he's / she's in? (Can you say Police Union) And, then take action to get the bad guy off the bench.

We need to demand thet All of the conspirators be charged with the crimes' that they comitted.

Police Cheif Brown is a one of a kind chief due to doing the right thing vs. allowing others to pull his strings. Good man, good person and in the right job. Thank you Mr. Brown.

Simon Haskell said...

He will never face trial in Dallas.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, he'll get fired, then deferred adjudication probation and then start cashing his pay checks from another police department a couple counties over.

We all know this by now. Those that don't, well, you can't be helped in understanding the way the system is set up. It's something you have to want to know or something you knowingly allow yourself to ignore. Part of the problem?

Anonymous said...

Mr. H. said it best. When you allow the criminal justice system to cherry pick Grand Jury members you get puppets.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to a cop website's story on this. Now the story isn't the interesting part, but the comments left by cops is. Skip the story and just read their comments. You'll quickly understand why I say we are in the middle of an undeclared war: http://www.policeone.com/officer-shootings/articles/6544952-Dallas-officer-who-shot-mentally-ill-man-is-fired

Anonymous said...

@9:12...
As a former county correctional nurse I can identify the disgust without hesitation the overwhelming attitude of justification for victimizing the mentally ill by law enforcement. It's common practice for the mentally ill in acute distress to be physically abused in a jail setting. I've seen more educated police officers handle these patients with proper understanding of what they're dealing with. But the reality is that once they get to jail they're denied the medical intervention they desperately need and are grossly mistreated to the point of hyperthermic crisis which is what generally occurs when they're placed in restraint chairs and go for long periods of time without the ability to regulate body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure secondary to untreated psychiatric crisis. Interventions such as the requirement of nurses to be present to monitor vital signs and video recordings of restraint procedures help. But I can't tell the readers how many times I've had to scream at deputies and even other nurses to stop taunting the patient or admonish them to quit punishing the patient for their illness. Those with schizophrenia and what we term "MR" (mentally retarded) are the most vulnerable. Harris County implemented a program last year to target the needs of those with psychiatric illness in the court system, which I applaud. However, the fact still stands that patients with untreated psychiatric disorders and the brain injured with behavioral disturbances end up in jail because they need critical psych intervention and instead of recognizing this need law enforcement arrests them. I've stood outside of isolation cells too many times to count screaming through the metal doors trying to calm schizophrenics in acute psychosis and scared, confused cognitively disabled people being held pending creatively applied charges because their parents would not or could not locate the resources to get them to a hospital and they couldn't handle them at home any more. If not for my husband I'd gladly still be in the thick of it. Law enforcement is unwilling to admit that they simply have no idea what they difference between a criminal and a sick person is or the fine art of interacting with person who may very well be both sick and criminal. So they hurt them instead. Thank God for the placement of that camera.

Anonymous said...

My apolpgies for the confusion in some areas of the above post. Auto correct. Shouldn't have posted from my phone. Oops.