Two weeks ago, a Dallas police officer claimed he was forced to shoot a mentally ill man to protect himself from being attacked. However, after a video surfaced that appears to prove the officer is lying, that cop is out of a job--and could be staring down the barrel of felony assault charges.
Ofc. Cardan Spencer, the six-year veteran who shot a mentally ill man who was standing still with his arms at his sides, was fired on Thursday.Back on October 14, police got a call that Bobby Gerald Bennett was walking around his south Dallas neighborhood with a knife. Spencer and his partner, Christopher Watson, later said Spencer was forced to shoot Bennett when Bennett lunged at them with the knife. But this video from a neighbor's surveillance camera proves otherwise.
Police Chief David Brown has also recommended he be charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but a state district judge refused to sign an arrest warrant for the officer, and said the case needs to be taken to a grand jury for referral.
The results of an internal investigation found that Spencer violated the department’s deadly force policy and the standard operating procedure regarding mentally ill persons. Spencer was told of his punishment during a disciplinary hearing Thursday morning.
"Officers are not above the law," Brown said during a news conference. "We as a police department are not going to look the other way. We are not going to sweep officer misconduct under the rug. Officer actions must be reasonable and necessary."
As you can see, Bennett never made a move toward the officers. He'd initially been charged with assault on an officer. When Brown found out about the video, however, those charges were dropped. Bennett is still in the hospital, but should be okay. Reportedly, he hadn't been taking medication for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder before he was shot.
Spencer had been on indefinite leave since the video came to light. After finding out that two passersby corroborated what was seen in the video, Brown really had no choice but to fire Spencer. Given the circumstances, I have to wonder why the judge didn't sign the warrant right away.
The other officer in the incident, Watson, is in hot water for statements he made in the incident. He initially claimed Bennett took two steps toward him and Spencer with the knife. But after seeing the video, Watson claimed he remembered things out of order. He said that Spencer shot Bennett first, then recalled seeing Bennett raise the knife as he went down. He claimed his initial statement was due to--wait for it--"acute stress." Brown didn't sound like he bought either claim.
Hopefully the grand jury will come to the same conclusion that Brown did--that this shooting was unnecessary and unlawful.