City of Dallas has paid out millions over officers' actions, could pay more

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Updated Thursday, May 1 at 9:09 PM

DALLAS — David Blair says last October Dallas police officers fired 12 shots at him with his 4-year-old son just feet away.

"What if they had some good bullets that had gone through the AC unit and hit my son?" he said.

Blair says he was simply standing outside his apartment when officers pulled up and shined a light in his face.

"I was on the phone with my brother and I said, 'Get the light out of my face; get the light out of my face,'" he said.

Officers say he threatened to "light" them up. Initally, they claimed they heard a gunshot, but Blair was unarmed and denies making the comment.

Now, there are questions about the credibility of one of the officers involved in the shooting.

Prior to the incident, Officer Jesse Aquino was disciplined for being untruthful in a police report.

Such deceit was captured in dash camera video of Aquino stopping Robert Lyons in July of 2011. Aquino claimed he stopped Lyons because he was walking in the middle of the road and not on the sidewalk.

"That's why I put on my camera and why I initiated the stop and everything like that," he said. "It was a good reason for contact because I saw a sidewalk."

But, a look at the dash cam video reveals there is no sidewalk and Lyons isn't in the middle of the street. Aquino stopped, searched him and eventually arrested him. 

"He has never been deliberately untruthful and has followed all the policies and procedures with the city of Dallas," Aquino's lawyer said. "If he made a mistake it was an honest mistake."

Blair has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, which isn't the only one. News 8 has learned since January 1, 2012, the city has paid out nearly $5.6 million in civil rights violation cases, mainly involving black individuals.

“There's a lot of things that take place that lead one to believe that individuals are being racially profiled," said Daryl Kevin Washington, who represents Blair.

And there are still high-profile cases the city hasn't settled, like the one involving Bobby Bennett, an unarmed mentally challenged man. Bennett was shot while standing still. Another case involves Kelvion Walker, who was also unarmed when he was shot in the passenger seat of a car believed stolen.

In both the Bennett and Walker case, the officers involved were terminated from the police department.

There are other cases pending and some believe by the end of the year the city could end up paying more than $10 million.

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