According to Dallas authorities, a police officer and his partner were dispatched to assist a mother who had requested help with her 52-year-old mentally ill son. An affidavit indicates that the man approached the police officer with a knife. The police officer shot the man, hitting him in the abdomen. The man is in the hospital, but experts believe the officer will face criminal charges over the incident.
The episode was recorded by a neighbor’s surveillance equipment. According to reports from experts who have viewed the video, it appears that the 52-year-old man was standing still when the officer shot him. An attorney and staff member at Southern Methodist University’s law school stated that, in his opinion, there did not appear to be justification for the shooting.
The 52-year-old man is recovering from his wound in a local hospital. Aggravated assault charges originally filed against the man have been dropped.
According to the police department, the officer is on administrative leave pending an investigation. The officer’s lawyer has stated the his actions were justified. The Dallas police department is not commenting on the matter due to legal reasons.
Legal experts have indicated that there’s a strong possibility the officer will be indicted on charges of aggravated assault, and he might also face federal charges regarding civil rights violations. It’s believed the last time a Dallas police officer faced criminal charges in the matter of a job-related shooting was 1973.
Experts are quick to point out that, while charges are likely, conviction is not. A previous Dallas prosecutor indicates that juries tend to presume innocence more stringently when law enforcement officers are involved in a defense case. Regardless of your job or background, it is important to understand how a jury might perceive you if you’ve been charged with a crime. Understanding those perceptions can help you and your attorney build the best possible case.
DallasNews.com, “Experts: Charges likely in Dallas officer’s shooting of mentally ill man” Tanya Eiserer, Oct. 22, 2013