Dallas Police's Final, Fatal Encounter with a Schizophrenic

Categories: Public Safety

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The 200 block of Glencairn Drive, the site of the latest shooting between Dallas cops and a mentally ill man.
To neighbors and family, it was obvious that Jason Harrison was mentally ill, even if the legal system kept treating him like someone who wasn't. The last time his mother called for the cops to come to their home in Oak Cliff was this past Saturday afternoon. He seemed agitated, standing in the street, according to a neighbor, and something that looked like it might be a weapon was in his pocket. "We could see the handle of it sticking out," the neighbor told Unfair Park. It was a screwdriver. Harrison's mother called 911 and asked for a speciality team to come and take her son to Parkland hospital.

Instead, at some point after the cops arrived, neighbors say, they heard three gunshots. The Dallas Police Department blog published a post on Saturday saying that Harrison "made an aggressive act towards one of the officers with the screwdriver," and so both officers fired, killing him. He was 38.

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Right to Remain Silent: Is Dallas' New Police Shooting Guideline Good Policy or Double Standard?

On October 14, Bobby Bennett was scooting across a cul-de-sac in an office chair in front of two advancing Dallas police officers. He held a knife, but he stood flat-footed, his arms at his sides, a safe distance from the cops. Seconds later, Officer Cardan Spencer inexplicably opened fire. Bennett doubled over, hit in the gut.

Bennett, a press release later claimed, was "acting violent." An aggravated assault charge followed.

The release of footage from a home surveillance camera completely contradicted the official story, which was apparently based on the recollection of Spencer's partner, Officer Christopher Watson. Shortly after the shooting, he claimed Bennett moved on them, knife raised.

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West, Texas Blast Was Caused By an Arsonist, Electrical Short or Golf Cart, Officials Say

State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy at this afternoon's press conference.
The Morning News broke the news this morning that officials had narrowed the cause of last month's deadly West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion to one of three things: a golf cart, an electrical short, or criminal activity. That wasn't terribly narrow, but there was a press conference scheduled this afternoon, so we thought investigators might be more specific.

They didn't.

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In the Wake of Kaufman Slayings, Dallas County Prosecutors Encouraged to Ammo Up

First Assistant DA Heath Harris speaking to reporters about increased security measures at his office.
The murder this weekend of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, two months after assistant DA Mark Hasse was gunned down in broad daylight, has Texas prosecutors on high alert.

The Associated Press reports today that district attorneys throughout the state are taking extra precautions as they head back to work after the Easter weekend. In Houston, Harris County DA Mike Anderson and his family now have round-the-clock security and is looking at how to beef up security at the office.

District Attorney Craig Watkins does not yet have a personal body guard, at least not so far as we can tell. At a press conference today, first assistant DA Heath Harris provided few specifics about efforts to protect Watkins and his staff, citing security concerns.

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Texas State Troopers No Longer Encouraged to Shoot Human Beings From Helicopters

The Texas Department of Public Safety got itself in a bit of a public relations mess last October when state troopers in a helicopter tracking a red pickup suspected of smuggling illegal immigrants opened fire, killing two Guatemalans and raising inevitable questions about the appropriateness of a law enforcement agency raining down bullets from above.

Turns out, such aerial assaults were written into DPS policy. Agency Director Steve McCraw told the San Antonio Express-News that the measure was put in place to protect officers patrolling the Mexican border.

"That's what our aerial assets are doing, and we need to protect those aerial assets and in doing so, we put a sniper on those," he told the paper. "And we're really not apologetic about it. We've got an obligation to protect our men and women when we're trying to protect Texas."

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