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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