DALLAS — Former Dallas police Officer Matthew Tate was on the stand all morning Wednesday, mostly trying to justify why he shot an unarmed man who had not committed a crime.
Tate said he saw Tobias Mackey walk around the corner at an apartment complex in South Dallas in October of 2010. He testified he shouted at Mackey several times to put his hands up.
"We were yelling to try to elicit a response or compliance — we got nothing," Tate testified. "I thought he was preparing to harm us."
According to Tate, he yelled at Mackey several times, but Mackey just stared at him.
"I thought, 'Something isn't right. What could be the issue? Why does he look scared?'" Tate said.
Then, he said it appeared Mackey was reaching for his waistband... and a weapon.
"[...]Because of a result of his actions, I thought my life was in danger," Tate said. "I used deadly force."
After the shooting, the Dallas County district attorney's office, the Dallas Police Department, and local FBI officials cleared Officer Tate. No charges were filed, and no one was disciplined.
But Officer Johnny Fitzgerald, who was nearby at the time of the shooting, also testified on Wednesday.
"I heard one shout of ‘Show me your hands!’ and then, 'Pow, pow," Fitzgerald said.
Attorneys representing the Mackey family are trying to prove Tate failed to give Mackey time to comply, and just shot him.
Officer Fitzgerald, who is black, said Mackey could have looked scared because, "Black people always make gestures when we see cops. As a young African-American man, you tense up."
In testimony on Tuesday, Sgt. Kenneth Chapin, who was standing next to Tate, said Mackey posed no threat.
Pete Schulte is a former McKinney police officer and a defense attorney unaffiliated with the case.
"That is very damaging, because the jury is going to look at two officers that are at the same scene and have conflicting testimony, and it comes down to who is the jury going to believe," Schulte said.
Mackey's mother sued the city, who offered her a settlement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars after they took another look at the case. She turned them down and went to the U.S. Justice Department, which opened a civil rights case.
That trial began Tuesday, and is expected to last the rest of the week.
The family is asking for more than $5 million in their federal civil rights violation case against the City of Dallas and Matthew Tate.