Family of Clint Peterson, Shot and Killed While Running from Duncanville Police, Sues

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Courtesy of the family of Clint Peterson.
In October 2013, Clint Peterson was shot to death by a Duncanville Police Department officer. Now his family has filed a lawsuit in federal court against three unnamed officers who responded to the call that ultimately lead to his death. Other defendants named in the suit are Duncanville Police Chief Robert Brown, the City of Duncanville and Dallas County.

Peterson was killed by police while running away, as we reported in 2013. Police confirmed that but few other details in the weeks following his death. "Preliminary reports indicate that shots were fired during a foot chase," the police department said in a statement shortly afterward.

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Dallas Police Toughen Charges Against French Defense Contractor Accused of Punching Cyclists

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A photo of Sebastien Blain from his Google Plus profile, which has since been deleted.

In late December, two cyclists with heavy bruising on their faces said they had been punched by a random, angry motorist driving behind them on Turtle Creek Boulevard. Despite the serious accusations, the Dallas police who came to the scene that night didn't appear to try too hard to get to the bottom of what happened. Instead, they gave both the driver and one of the cyclists each a ticket for a class C misdemeanor assault, a low-level charge handled in municipal court. Then they let the driver go without a sobriety test.

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Dallas Police Watched Body Cam Footage of Jason Harrison Shooting Before Giving Statements

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Mark Graham
David Harrison, above, is suing the city of Dallas over the death of his brother, Jason.
David Harrison is still waiting to see the footage of Dallas Police Department officers killing his brother. The June shooting death of Jason Harrison, the subject of last week's cover story by Sky Chadde, was the first fatal DPD shooting ever captured on the department's new body camera technology, but police say they can't release the video until after the grand jury proceedings.

While David Harrison says that his mentally ill brother was never a violent person, the DPD says otherwise -- the officers who responded to a 911 call from Jason's mother say that he aggressively came at them with a screwdriver that day, giving them little choice but to shoot.

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It Turns Out That Arlington Cops Don't Like Being Yelled at by People Holding Pistols

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Dylan Hollingsworth
A file photo of cop-watchers in action.
Cop watchers, or the people who follow cops around with cameras to catch them doing something wrong, were predictably outraged after one of their own got arrested by the Arlington Police Department this weekend. "A copwatcher with a black powder revolver was kidnapped and hauled away like a dog catcher hauling away an animal," says the dramatically-worded post on the the Dallas Cop Block Facebook page, describing the arrest of a protester named Jacob Cordova.

So sure, Cordova was openly carrying a pistol during his confrontation with the police. But to cop watchers, many of whom are also open carry protesters, holding a pistol isn't a legitimate reason to be arrested.

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The Last 911 Call: A Mentally Ill Dallas Man and the Cops Who Saved Him, Until They Didn't

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Mark Graham
David Harrison, far left, stayed close with his brother, Jason, from when he was a boy (left) until the day he was shot dead by police. Now he wants answers.

The sanctuary of St. Paul United Methodist Church, a red-brick anachronism surrounded by the skyward steel and concrete of downtown Dallas, is small and tight — not nearly big enough to accommodate the swarm of people that poured into the city's oldest black church on a warm Monday night in August. Grieving family members and community activists milled in entryways and spilled from pews into aisles, their eyes fixed on the chancel, where the city's police chief and the county's district attorney and sheriff stood at a table, looking down and out onto the crowd about to boil over.

Nine days earlier, Darren Wilson, a white police officer, had shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who'd organized that night's town hall meeting, maintained that his office had planned the event months before, but the timing was auspicious for many of the people assembled there, who hoped to talk about their own sons and brothers.

Watkins grabbed the microphone and walked to the platform's edge. "We're not Missouri," he said.

David Harrison sat up front that night. Tall and broad-shouldered, with a pockmarked face, a trim goatee and glasses, 44-year-old Harrison had never been much of an activist. But ever since one day a couple of months prior — the "game-changer," as he called it — he hadn't been able to concentrate on his job at a construction company. He played the events of 11:23 to 11:26 a.m. June 14 in his mind, then rewound them and played them again, trying to make sense of what happened. But he couldn't. The man police described in their incident report wasn't the brother he'd known for 38 years. His brother was gentle, nonthreatening. How did he do what they said he had?

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Jail Visits, Deion Sanders, Frisco and Vaginal Mesh: Updates from 2014 Stories

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Justin Renteria
The news just keeps rolling on, and not every story has a neat ending. Sometimes it pays to stop and take a look back to see what's happened with stories we reported during the year. That time is the day after Christmas, when all the new newsmakers are sneaking in an extra day off. So here are Amy Silverstein's updates from 2014.

Dallas Senator Tries To Keep In-Person Visitation at Jails
Next year people will be able to skip the lines at the Lew Sterrett Jail and talk to their loved ones from home, through a video chatting software. The catch is that it's going to cost $10 for a 20-minute visit, and the company installing the software, Securus, really wants to eliminate in-person visits to push everyone to pay that fee. At least five other counties in Texas have already eliminated in-person visits after they installed Securus' software.

When the Dallas County Commissioners voted to approve the video visitation contract with Securus in November, they promised verbally that Dallas would be the exception and keep in-person visits just as they are. But the written contract says otherwise, vaguely suggesting that Dallas County will have to restrict its in-person visits so that Securus can make back its money. The final decision on jail visitation is ultimately up to the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, whose spokesman never returned our messages inquiring about video visitation.


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Cyclists Say an Angry French Defense Contractor Punched Them; Cops Write Tickets

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A photo of Sebastien Blain, the driver who was cited by police after two cyclists claim he punched them, from his Google Plus profile, which has since been deleted.
Three friends were riding their bikes along Turtle Creek after a night out early Saturday when, they say, a French couple in a black Volkswagen pulled up behind them and started honking. While that sounds like typical Turtle Creek driver behavior (minus the French accent), they say the motorist then became unexpectedly violent. According to the three friends, the driver first hit cyclist George Wendt (not the Cheers guy, as far as we know) with his car, knocking him off his bike and sending him to the median. With Wendt still on the ground, the male driver got out and began punching him in the eyes, the friends say.

The group didn't hear what their alleged assailant told the cops who eventually arrived, but it must have been a really convincing story, because police records indicate that the motorist was let go without an arrest or even a sobriety test.

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Dallas County Jail Telephones Cost Extra If You Pay with a Credit Card. Is That Legal?

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Amy Silverstein
A woman using Securus' on-site video visitation in the Hopkins County Jail, where in-person visits have been eliminated.
Most people don't realize that Texas has had a pretty cool law on the books since 1985 that bars merchants from charging customers extra for paying by credit card. The famously annoying credit card surcharge feels like it's everywhere, and Texas is just one of a handful of states where the credit card fee remains illegal. So how exactly is the company that operates the Dallas County Jail's telephones getting away with charging customers $4.95 extra if they pay by credit or debit card?

The phones in the Lew Sterrett Jail are operated by a private jail telecommunications company called Securus that makes its money by offering inmate telephone service on a per-minute or per-call rate, resulting in a high bill that the families of inmates are usually stuck funding.

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Captive Audience: Counties and Private Businesses Cash in on Video Visits at Jails

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Justin Renteria
Kristina Leisey's former fiance sits in jail in Hopkins County on a drug-possession charge, his link to the world outside a telephone and frequent calls to her. "He's trying to call every day, sometimes two or three times a day," Leisey says. "He doesn't understand how much it adds up after awhile."

The jail telephones are operated by Securus, a Dallas-based corporation that is a major player on the tech side of the for-profit prison industry. The company is popular with county and state governments for its ability to raise money through jail phone calls. It's not popular with the people who actually take the calls, the families and friends of inmates, who find their bank accounts taking hits from a system that is expensive and confusing to use.

To receive the calls, Leisey must deposit money into a prepaid account through Securus. Calls last 15 minutes each, at the flat rate of $4.95. Yet the calls often get dropped before the 15 minutes are up, Leisey says, and $4.95 is deducted from her account regardless. She has tried to call Securus to tell them about the problem, but the telecommunications giant never seems to answer its own phones. "I can never get through to them, ever," she says. The last time she called, she put her cell on speaker as she did her laundry. After 23 minutes, she gave up.

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Desoto Is Having Trouble Firing a Cop Who Helped Silence His Son's Rape Accuser

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Dave Conner
The Desoto Police Department's first attempt to run off Sergeant James Henrise came around 1996. Henrise and a fellow cop had come forward with evidence they claimed showed that Chief John Horvath had improperly meddled in a seven-year-old murder investigation and used public funds to finance a family vacation to Europe.

The accusations were never proven, and Henrise was briefly suspended. When he returned, he claimed in a federal lawsuit that was ultimately thrown out, he was relegated to menial duties including handicapped parking enforcement, subjected to internal affairs investigations and otherwise punished and harassed as he continued to press the accusations.

Fast-forward 18 years to early 2014. Henrise is still on the force, having outlasted both Horvath and his successor, but his run-ins with management weren't over. On the contrary, newly minted Desoto Police Chief Joseph Costa would soon do what his predecessors never would: He gave Henrise an "indefinite suspension," the functional equivalent in the civil service system to termination.

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