Cardan Spencer, Dallas Officer Who Shot Mentally Ill Man, Fired and May Face Charges

BennettCopShooting.jpg
The Dallas police officer who shot an unarmed, mentally ill man in the stomach has been fired, Dallas Police Chief Brown announced at a news conference today. Brown also said that the police officer, Cardan Spencer, would face a first degree felony charge of aggravated assault, but the department later announced that the case will be referred to a grand jury.

Joyce Jackson called the police on her 53-year-old son on October 14 because she was afraid he would hurt himself. Her son, Bobby Bennett, is bipolar and schizophrenic. He had been off of his medication for a few months, after his last prescription seemed to knock him out completely. "He can be eating, and then all of a sudden he's just out," Jackson told Unfair Park in an interview, "and he'll have food in his mouth or whatever. That's over-dosing I think."

As he sat on the cul-de-sac of the residential street where he lived holding a knife, Jackson asked the 911 dispatcher why police were taking so long to arrive. The dispatcher was reassured her. "She said, 'We're getting special officers out there to you Ms. Jackson."

But not long after the police car with Officer Spencer and Officer Christopher Watson pulled up, Jackson heard four gun shots.

At first, it was Bennett who the faced criminal charges. In an interview at her home, Jackson cried as she recalled seeing officers roll her son over to put him in handcuffs. "There's no way my son could do anything to him, on the ground out there, on the cement."

The police charged Bennett with aggravated assault and accused him of aggressively approaching them with a knife. But a surveillance video, captured by neighbor Maurice Bunch and leaked to the media, appeared to vindicate Bennett. Last week, Brown announced that he was dropping Bennett's aggravated assault charges.

Bunch actually showed the video to the police before leaking it to the media. Brown said that the DPD pursued charges against the victim even after seeing the video because the police report, which was written by Watson, "overrode" the video.

"The unfortunate thing here is that Officer Watson's statement really overrode what the video showed," Brown said. "We had not at that point determined if the video captured the entire incident, or if the video had not been altered in any way. We put a lot of credibility on officer's statements until we have other evidence to prove otherwise."

Jackson didn't witness the shooting; she was trying to run outside as it happened, and heard the shots as she turned her back. By the time she made it out through her garage, she saw her son lying in the street. She tried to run to him, she said, but the officers yelled at her to get back.

"Those two officers stood in the cul-de-sac, the shooter picking up the bullets, which is a crime scene, "Jackson said. "They were just walking around the cul-de-sac before they ever even attended to my son, picking it up , putting it in their pocket, walking around like they're dazed."

Asked about those allegations, Brown said he hadn't heard about the officers picking anything up. "I don't recall any reports showing that Spencer picked up his own casings. But I'll definitely follow-up with you on that," he told Unfair Park. The police later issued a statement saying the officer was picking up his radio.

Jackson said Bennett is now awake and talking. "He remembers being shot, he remembers his stomach being on fire inside, but he doesn't remember anything else."


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20 comments
biff51
biff51

There would have been a huge national uproar about this story if the cop had been white and the victim black.

biff51
biff51

Has anyone noticed that the media has never shown a picture of the cop in question? I wonder why?

oilman
oilman

Killer cops should be arrested, prosecuted, sentenced and jailed like all other criminals should be!  This is not a matter to be swept under the rug and forgotten quickly.  Public officials like the mayor and police chief who act like this is a minor matter need to be at least removed from office.

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BYEBYE
BYEBYE

I think the fact that people are on here defending this travesty shows that this country is to far gone to save.  Enjoy the last vestiges of freedom folks.  They will soon be gone forever.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

I wish we would tackle the bigger issue here (don't get me wrong what the police did was wrong, plain and simple) but here we are, we have a mother calling the police on her mentally ill son because she was afraid he would hurt himself - why are we using police officers as social workers. What are they suppose to do? Cuff him and take him to a hospital? How are they suppose to know what his actions and intentions are? They get a quick glimpse and have to react.  Why is the mother not taking her son to the doctors months ago when he was "being over dosed"?

Wilson
Wilson

We put a lot of credibility on officer's statements until we have other evidence to prove otherwise."

How about we put an end to this policy?  Cops should have cameras on them and in their cars. Anything they put in a police report should be verifiable. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

This action will, hopefully, deter future attacks on the citizenry and put in motion the cleanup of the department.

ryan762
ryan762

Picking up his radio? Why did his radio explode all over the cul-de-sac? What kind of ticking time bombs do police officers have strapped to them every day? I mean, the guy has to walk around to several different spots to pick up his radio off the ground. Whoever supplied these radios to the police department needs to be investigated because there's no excuse for them to break into several pieces like that (so that it so very coincidentally looks exactly like what a witness who hasn't been caught lying to police said happened).

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

So Watson, who wrote the lie, is still employed?

I can tell by a person's color he is a liar - and the color is blue.

AmbelleinaWarwillow
AmbelleinaWarwillow

@whocareswhatithink If there is a person who is either a danger to themselves or others, the process is to call emergency services. Even if he had a state-assigned social worker, the process is to ALWAYS call emergency services first. A social worker cannot come to your home and restrain a physically violent/thrashing person, if they are to the point of becoming a physical danger to themselves or others. Even if an adult person is mentally ill, if a person who is not in law enforcement tries to physically restrain them, they can be charged with assault. And yes, that is exactly what the police officers do: they cuff the person and take him/her to a mental health facility. There isn't an issue of why the mother called the police; she did exactly what family members of mentally ill patients are instructed to do in this kind of situation.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@whocareswhatithink Some mentally ill people are highly resistant to getting care.  Often, it's little crises like this, when the afflicted have finally shown an indication that they might hurt themselves that allows the family to get them help.   And, you defend the officers for their reaction?  they were in zero danger, yet shot, they clearly, "OVEReacted"

tdkisok
tdkisok

@whocareswhatithink


"we have a mother calling the police on her mentally ill son because she was afraid he would hurt himself - why are we using police officers as social workers."


They weren't. They were there to defuse the situation not talk to the guy. 

ginger4v
ginger4v

There are cameras in the car. Your dumb.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@Wilson or, should have equal standing with other accounts.  I agree that EVIDENCE should drive matters, as heresay is inadmissible traditionally.  But, police are More Equal than others

Dallas2013
Dallas2013

@bvckvs Thank You!!! I was asking myself the same questions. Like, where was his supervisor, not just on this call but on all his other calls too. What type of yearly evaluations did this guy get? When was the last time this guy had to make an arrest or dealt with a deadly force situation? Has he been fleecing the tax payers for all these years by not doing anything at work? And maybe we need a closer look at how the police recruit, train, and evaluate their officers and their supervisors. The tax payers are going to write a massive check for this situation. A situation that didn't have to happen. 

katesipes
katesipes

Unfortunately for the people of Dallas, "restricted duty" could mean even greater responsibility than patrolling the community. Shawn Wash's punishment for shelving hundreds of domestic violence files was reassignment to the property room.

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