Ex-Dallas Cop Amy Wilburn Indicted for Shooting Unarmed Teen in Pleasant Grove

amywilburn.jpg
Amy Wilburn
Forty-one years ago, Dallas police officer Darrell Cain was charged with murder for killing 12-year-old Santos Rodriquez as he sat in the back of a squad car. Though there have been scores of police shootings since, that was the last time a Dallas cop was indicted for shooting a suspect -- until this week.

Fox 4, The Dallas Morning News, and WFAA are all reporting that a grand jury decided Thursday to charge former officer Amy Wilburn with aggravated assault for shooting an unarmed teenager in Pleasant Grove in December.

See also: Kelvion Walker, the Man Shot Monday by Dallas Police, Had His Hands in the Air, Witness Says

Kelvion Walker, 19, was in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by a carjacking suspect. After the driver bailed out, Wilburn rushed to the stop the still-rolling car, not realizing Walker was in the passenger seat. When she saw him, she pulled gun and fired, sending Walker to the hospital. Witnesses reported that Walker had his hands in the air.

Here's dash-cam video of the incident, released by DPD in January:

Dallas Police Chief David Brown fired Wilburn shortly after the shooting, two months after terminating officer Carden Spencer for shooting a mentally ill Rylie man. Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston criticized the firings, saying they jeopardized public safety by making cops in emergency situations second-guess when they're allowed to use deadly force.

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

According to the Morning News, Spencer's case is scheduled to go before a grand jury on Tuesday.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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46 comments
davissbc
davissbc

Get rid of the cops. The trend toward unprovoked beating and killing of citizens has grown quite a bit in the past few years as the police now look at all of us as people to contain an subdue. And we are forced to pay for this service (taxes). As long as you have a police force set-apart from the citizens, with no alternative available, who is accountable to no one but itself, you will have this problem. Private security or volunteer security where everyone in the community is involved are viable alternatives. Get rid of the cops, they're just another gang.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Cowardly trigger-happy cop scum.

sixandahalf
sixandahalf

Police officers should be highly trained and payed to apprehend criminals without excess maiming and mutilation.  Their job leaves no room for errors due to accidents or poor training.  When they do make mistakes for whatever reason, they should face the full force of the law like any other citizen. This is not a job for everyone.  Many people are not suited to be police officers. 


In this case, the officer has obviously committed a crime and should be prosecuted in a court of law without the fabled "privileges" often reserved for members of the legal establishment.

Hulon_Pate
Hulon_Pate

I think most any of us in the same situation would have pulled their piece and fired without hesitation. She was in fear of her life dealing with the worst kind scum that have no reverence for mankind and the law of the land. The criminals putting Officers and the public in harms way. You rob a bank or steal a car your only expectation should be that you will most likely get shot.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

A couple of things -- first of all, you don't have to have intent for it to be aggravated assault -- recklessness can also be a reason.  I think that is the case here.


Looking at the video, I don't think she meant to shoot him.  I think she meant to hold him at gunpoint, lost her balance following the moving car, and since she (recklessly) had her finger on the trigger, she had a sympathetic clinching of her hand when her balance shifted, and shot unintentionally.


However, that still satisfies all of the elements of aggravated assault, and she should be charged.  We have to hold police to a high standard.  Convict her, give her a suspended sentence, and send her into the private workforce where she's not a danger to the public.

casiepierce
casiepierce

Wow, I didn't realize there were so many cop haters in here. Of course now I am considering a new vocation of car-jacking.....

ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

There seems to be a mindset among many police that once you run from them, all bets are off.  How many chases have we seen where the perp gives up, exits the vehicle, lies down with arms and legs spread, only to have the living hell beaten out of him by eight cops?  Of course this example takes it to another level entirely, but it seems to arise from the same mentality.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Looking at the video, I think she may have a prob.

If her gun were drawn when she initially encountered the guy, then it would be borderline.

The time between initial encounter and shooting was seemingly sufficient to ascertain his arms being up and unarmed.

That's assuming the witnesses were correct about his arms, both of them, being raised.

This is why cops should wear cameras.

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

cops should ALWAYS be afraid to shoot people, just like anyone else that is armed and wants to stay out of prison and/or  not have nightmares over it.

j_angel180
j_angel180

It's a terrible thing for all involved DPD needs better train their officers. Makes the City look bad.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Based upon what I have read, it is my opinion that the grand jury made an error.  Either that or DA Watkins wants to hang a police officer out to dry in order to appease the minority "community leaders".


While Cpl Wilburn may have made an error in judgement in the heat of the pursuit, I seriously doubt that her actions rise to that of a criminal act.


That being said, I will be first in line to throw a police officer into jail who does commit a crime under the color of authority.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Pinkston is either a chronic whiner or just dumb as a bucket of rocks. 

davissbc
davissbc

@Hulon_Pate  If she were a citizen I'm thinking she probably would've gotten manslaughter at best. So why are police above the law? Why should they not suffer the same consequences citizens do? Does the blues suit and shield impart superhuman powers of judgement and moral superiority?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@everlastingphelps

Her weapon was holstered when she ran up to the car. Her stance when drawing the weapon seemed solid, but she may have been bumped by the car after weapon was drawn, but hard to tell.

The shooting looks intentional, we don't know what she was looking at, the perp may have been raising his hands, which could have appeared to her to be drawing a weapon.

Without knowing what she saw, it's hard to draw a conclusion, other than if you steal cars, you might get shot.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@ColonelAngus  
Partly it's adrenaline, which is hard enough to control for any human, but I believe a large part of it is the "How dare you?!" vengefulness and spitefulness of an authority figure. Beatings that go on past the single, somewhat understandable first pop are signs of a personality that's been cultured to accept no refusal, no challenge.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@j_angel180  

Regarding training, as I said when this story first broke and better training was suggested, this is beyond training. She was a senior officer, years on the force, and has had training on top of training. This is a result of her individual personality and personal judgment.

Scarily, she's probably served as a training officer for rookies, and that's where better training might have helped those rookies.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  If any of us had shot him in that situation, it would be criminal.  It's the same for cops -- the law on lethal self-defense is exactly the same whether you are wearing a badge or not.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

Tough one, for sure. I can't see that this can be labeled criminal, but, "I was surprised and caught off guard." is not an acceptable answer to the, "Why did you shoot the suspect?" question.


Biglar
Biglar

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  Negligence can be criminal.  Shooting an unarmed man with his hands up, even if it is by mistake, is a terrible error. And having a badge doesn't make it OK to unjustifiably shoot somebody in the heat of panic.  We train and pay our police officers to do the right thing in these sorts of situations.  Sometimes its a close call, in which case I'm OK with the officer just finding a new line of work.  I don't want to pre-judge this situation, but maybe this could be criminal.  


Mainly, I'm happy that Officer Wilburn has to find another line of work, because she obviously isn't cut out for this one.  Too often the police close ranks to protect the sloppy, brutal, and incompetent.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

Can we assume you've pre-judged the officer as guilty?

noneedtoaggress
noneedtoaggress

@bvckvs @casiepierce  Only if your definition of public service is services provided by the state (which are fundamentally coercive).

It's not the services provided they are opposed to, it's the means to the ends.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@bvckvs

We of libertarian bent prefer to flatten tires.

ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

@wcvemail Agreed.  There is also the fact that those who flee often put the lives of scores of innocent drivers in mortal danger, sometimes leading to tragic results.  This should anger anyone.  Nonetheless popo is paid and trained to enforce the law, not to take the law into his own hands.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@everlastingphelps

Dunno, moveable property.

Remember when the kids stole tires, or hubcaps, owner chased them down a hiway service road, kid even dropped stolen items and the guy still shot him and got no-billed ?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul 

I wonder if the average policeman will now go:  "Excuse me, Sir.  Would you please stop what you are doing and come here?  If you don't I will go away and not bother you any more."


Note:  This remark was covered with a heaping helping of sarcasm to the point where it is dripping with said sarcasm.

ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

@everlastingphelps @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul "It's the same for cops -- the law on lethal self-defense is exactly the same whether you are wearing a badge or not."


Or at least it should be.  While the law is the same, the application of it in many cases...................

wcvemail
wcvemail

@Biglar  

We can never be sure if these rogue cops are truly out of law enforcement. I understand, without having reference links, that small jurisdictions frequently hire big-city castoffs because the town gets professionally trained LE and the LEO gets a new, quiet start at the cost of reduced pay. I do know that towns like Lancaster have hired at least two DPD Academy wash-outs.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@lebowski300 @James080 

Obviously, I would have flunked that part of the SAT reading comprehension! D'oh! I guess I saw the "murder" in the first part and my mind lazily applied it for the current incident.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @wcvemail @TheCredibleHulk  Witness statement from witnesses, or participants, that are still in the period immediately following any incident are notoriously unreliable.


You are correct, but the only thing less reliable is witness statements taken after the period immediately following.  The ones taken immediately are the least unreliable.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @wcvemail @TheCredibleHulk  
Point taken. There's also the adrenaline-fueled tunnel vision, a focus on the immediate danger, that's part of primal survival. "Oh, now that I think about it, there was also a ... on the left and a ... on the right, but I was focused on the X that just hit me."

It's unfortunate that my cynicism causes me to think automatically of coaching to present the most benign story, which also happens, we must admit.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@wcvemail @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul@TheCredibleHulk 

Witness statement from witnesses, or participants, that are still in the period immediately following any incident are notoriously unreliable.

Why do you think that automobile insurance companies advise their clients to not say anything after an accident, other than to respond to police questions, and provide their DL and insurance  information to other involved drivers?

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

there is a book called something like 'justice in smith county' along with a movie called 'rush' about small towns snatch89ng up bad cops.

ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

@ozonelarryb Would you say that is what took place at the Bundy ranch recently?  It seemed different.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@ozonelarryb

There are many "laws". Your statement is too general to debate. There are laws conservatives object to, or support. Same with liberals. On some both sides agree.

In this specific instance, the anonymous stalker I replied to is directly attempting to "control" me. If he had the power to cut my access to this forum, what do you think he would do?

OTOH, , a single-purpose stalker persona would likely be banned at most media comment boards. I wouldn't ban him, simply because he does himself and his "cause" much more damage than I could ever dream of doing, his "cause" being his obsession with me - or more accurately, his projection of everything he hates on to me.

He's become a self-parody.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Way too simplistic. Ask most tea partyers, 'conservatives' if they want to he controlled. Then try to reconcile that with their drooling obeisance to authority, law and order, etc. They just have the moronic idea that they do not have to protect other's rights, that 'it' could never happen to them.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@LOOK

"Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort."

-- Robert A. Heinlein

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