Dallas Police Chief Halts Field Sobriety Training Because Minority Recruits Keep Failing

Dallas Police Chief David Brown is once again denying accusations that DPD has watered down recruit training standards.

The allegations were leveled recently by Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston, who said a recruit was allowed to retake and ultimately pass the police academy driving test despite multiple failures. A week ago, Brown provided few specifics but said that all policies had been followed. He vowed to launch an internal affairs investigation to find the source of Pinkston's information.

On Thursday, Brown offered a few more specifics. The recruit in question did fail his driving test on multiple occasions, DPD said in a press release, and there was a discussion in the chain of command of whether to fire him, but a decision was ultimately made by Assistant Chief Patricia Paulhill to offer remedial training and a retest.

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Pallavi Dhawan Describes Last Day of Son's Life in Affidavit

When the Frisco Police Department discovered the body of 10-year-old Arnav Dhawan in his Frisco home, they said, he was lying in a dry bathtub with a cloth wrapped around him, surrounded by plastic bags. His mother, Pallavi Dhawan, had arranged him that way, and police claimed in a press conference shortly afterward that she nodded "yes" when they asked if she killed him.

But the case quickly seemed to fall apart.

Her husband vouched for her innocence, and the coroner more recently determined that Arnav most likely died of natural causes.

Yesterday Pallavi Dhawan sent police a sworn affidavit describing the last day of Arnav's life, his poor health and the cultural traditions that she was following in arranging his body after he died.

See also: Ten-year-old Arnav Dhawa's Autopsy Done While Police Sat on His Medical Records

Shortly after Arnav was born, Pallavi writes, his health problems became apparent. First he was diagnosed with jaundice, then, a few days later, he suffered a urinary tract infection. At 3 months old, doctors noticed "an usual head circumference." After more checkups, he was ultimately diagnosed with microcephaly -- basically, an abnormally small head. There's no cure and people with the condition are expected to live shorter lives, though the prognosis can vary widely from patient to patient.

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Dallas PD Chief David Brown Vows to ID Cop Who Said DPD Has Eased Training Standards

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The accusations leveled last week by Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston were serious: Dallas PD was relaxing standards for its driving- and firearms-training courses to allow unqualified recruits to become cops. More serious, certainly, than his assertion that keeping cops from shooting people, or allowing Avi Adelman to legally film them, will harm public safety.

And Pinkston seemed to know what he was talking about. The letter he sent to City Manager A.C. Gonzalez and other city officials identified one recruit, who repeatedly failed the Police Vehicle Operations Course test, by name. The name was redacted by the time The Dallas Morning News got a copy, but the information was pretty specific:

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Frisco PD Will Only Give Car Back to Family It May Have Wrongly Accused If They Promise Not To Sue

Pallavi Dhawan
Pallavi Dhawan is still facing charges in the death of her 10-year-old son, Arnav, even though the final autopsy report ruled that "natural disease is most likely." It's for that and other reasons that the Frisco Police Department seems to have jumped the gun when it held a press conference accusing Pallavi of murder, as Jim Schutze detailed in a story last month.

At the time of Pallavi's arrest, the Frisco PD impounded the family vehicle with the medical records in the trunk. Dhawan family attorney David Finn fought the police in a bitter court battle before finally getting them back. "I asked these sons of bitches for a copy of these fucking medical records, like constantly, and they kept saying basically, 'Pound sand,' so I had to file a fucking emergency writ with Judge Scott Becker up in McKinney to get a copy," the lawyer told Schutze. (He is our new favorite lawyer.)

Now that Finn has the records, he's moved on to trying to get the family's car returned. In a note this week, Frisco Deputy Chief David Shilson said sure, Pallavi and her husband Sumeet can get their car back. That is, they can get it back if they agree to some "stipulations." Among those stipulations: the department can't be held liable if the car is damaged. Finn takes this to mean that the department damaged the car.

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Texas Can't Kill Prisoners Until It Says Where It Got Its Pentobarbital, Federal Judge Says [Updated]

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T Woodard
Update: Never mind. An appeals court overturned Gilmore's decision.

Original post: There have been two significant developments since the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state doesn't have to say where it got the pentobarbital it will use to kill death row inmates Tommy Lynn Sells and Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas.

One is that the state of Texas, which had been rather vague but generally insisted that naming the supplier would put them in great danger, gave a specific example of a case in which that happened. This wasn't in Texas. When The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy was revealed as the provider of the state's just-expired cache of drugs, it seems to have suffered nothing worse than angry phone calls and bad publicity. But it did actually happen.

"An individual threatened to blow up a truck full of fertilizer outside a pharmacy supplying substances to be used in executions," a Texas Department of Criminal Justice attorney wrote in a brief on Tuesday.

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Texas Won't Have to Identify Its Execution-Drug Supplier After All

T Woodard
The last time the Texas Department of Criminal Justice secured a cache of pentobarbital, the drug it uses to execute prisoners, the Houston-area compounding pharmacy that supplied it had second thoughts.

"[I]t was my belief that this information would be kept on the 'down low,' and that it was unlikely that it would be discovered that my pharmacy provided these drugs," Dr. Joseph Lavoi of The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy wrote once the involvement of his business was disclosed. "I find myself in the middle of a firestorm I was not advised of and did not bargain for."

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Texas Can't Give 17-Year-Old Murderers Mandatory Life Without Parole, Appeals Court Rules

Terrell Maxwell
It took more than a year and two special sessions to do it, but last July, the Texas legislature finally provided a constitutional option for punishing teen murderers.

In Texas, 17-year-olds are treated as adults for purposes of criminal law, which previously meant that those convicted of capital murder were eligible for one of two punishments: death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. But the Supreme Court ruled both punishments unconstitutional for suspects younger than 18 -- capital punishment in 2005, and mandatory life without parole in 2012 -- so the legislature said that 17-year-olds can only be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

That will come in handy when Jake Evans, the Aledo teen accused of killing his mother and sister, eventually goes to trial. But what of the 17 inmates the Associated Press reports are serving no-parole sentences for murders committed between 2005 and 2009, as well as those who have been convicted since?

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Duncanville Police Shooting Victim Didn't Receive Medical Help Afterward, Autopsy Says

In October, the Duncanville Police Department responded to what they vaguely described as a "major disturbance." After they arrived, a 28-year-old man named Clinton Peterson somehow ended up getting shot to death.

The police department admitted this much in a press release published shortly after the shooting. But cops provided no other details about who fired the fatal shots or why there was a shooting in the first place.

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Attorneys for Judge Cortez's Ex Say Failed Abuse Case is the District Attorney's Fault

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Judge Carlos Cortez
It's not easy to call the cops on your boyfriend when he's a powerful judge, but in the beginning, it seemed that the law was on Maggie Strother's side.

Dallas Police Department officers visited the Uptown condo of state District Judge Carlos Cortez on December 28. There, Strother showed them some ugly red marks around her neck, according to the police report, and said that Cortez had choked her, pulled her hair and threatened to kill her while leaning her over the edge of his balcony.

The cops arrested Cortez on a family violence assault charge. They presented their findings to the District Attorney's Office, which accepted the case and handed it to a grand jury. But it wasn't until Monday, after the grand jury declined to issue an indictment in the case, that Strother's attorney accused authorities of botching the case. That very same district attorney who agreed to take the case, Strother's attorney claims, was actually biased in favor of Cortez.

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In Texas, Death-Row Gold Diggers Reportedly Marry Texas Inmates for Life Insurance

It's a curious phenomenon, the "death row groupies" who become enamored with men who committed some of the most vile crimes you can imagine. When Scott Peterson arrived at California's San Quentin State Prison fresh off a conviction of murdering his wife and unborn child, he received a marriage proposal within the first hour.

"These are usually women who would love to date a rock star or rap idol, but if they wrote to a musician, they might get a letter. Here they could get a marriage proposal," as Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin, author of Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder, explained to D in 2011.

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