DALLAS — Conflicting stories are emerging surrounding Saturday's killing of an armed man by a Dallas police officer.
Police justify the shooting as self-defense, although witnesses report the 21-year-old suspect was shot in the back as he ran from the officer.
John Husband III, 21, of Dallas, was killed Saturday afternoon outside an apartment complex in the 3600 block of Folklore Trail in Oak Cliff.
"He [the officer] shot him in the back," said Xavier Bryant, 22, Husband’s friend since childhood.
Bryant, Husband, and a third person were visiting a friend’s apartment Saturday afternoon, when — Bryant said — the officer pulled up behind their car as they parked. It’s unclear why the officer approached the car; police only say it was a "traffic stop."
Bryant said the officer — who was alone — approached Husband in the driver’s seat and asked him to get out of the car so he could handcuff him.
As Husband stood with his back to the officer, Bryant claims, Husband decided — for an unknown reason — to try and run away.
“When he got ready to pull out the cuffs, and put them on him, [Husband] took off running, and that’s when he shot him in the back," Bryant said.
According to Bryant, Husband spun out of the officer’s grasp and ran only a few steps before the officer fired once, hitting the young father in the back. He was later pronounced dead at Methodist Charlton Medical Center.
"He [the officer] didn’t even try to chase him," Bryant said. "Then they try to make it seem like he was going for a gun? He was trying to run away."
Several witnesses at the scene corroborated Bryant’s version of events.
"He was shot in the back; that’s what we saw," said Montia Redic, who said she was chatting with a family member in the parking lot at the time.
"It shocked me, because I was like, 'I know they’re not about to shoot him,'" she recalled soon after the shooting. "They had no reason to shoot him."
The stories contradict the Dallas Police Department’s official written account. "The officer fired his weapon in self-defense striking the suspect," the official statement said.
Police said Husband was carrying a gun, but declined to elaborate.
"I just know there was a weapon recovered from the suspect," said police spokesman Sgt. Warren Mitchell. "We’re in the early stages of the investigation."
The officer who fired the fatal shot, who has not been identified, was not injured.
Husband’s family said he has a toddler-aged son and had hoped to become a truck driver.
“He wanted to travel, see the world," said his father, John Husband Jr. "He can’t do that now."
The elder Husband said what he wants now is justice.
"That was a coward move," the dead man's father said. "I'm afraid he’ll get away with it, just because you wear a badge.”