Police, pastor work to calm unruly crowd

Police shooting

Credit: WFAA

A crowd estimated at more than 300 people assembled in a southeast Dallas neighborhood where police allegedly shot and killed a suspect.

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 11:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 25 at 12:59 PM

Police-involved shooting

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DALLAS — Any time a police officer shoots someone, extra units always get sent to the scene.

But no one expected what developed late Tuesday afternoon along Dixon Street near Scyene Road in southeast Dallas.

Whatever frustration began to grow in the crowd after the deadly officer-involved shooting, it nearly boiled over when one Dallas policeman fired several rounds of pepper-ball, a crowd dispersant, into the ground and shouted for people to move back.

Seconds later, a News 8 camera caught another officer asking him to stand down, so as to not incite the crowd.

By 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, the situation in this neighborhood was fragile and growing dangerous.

Relatives wanted to know what led to a Dallas police officer shooting and killing James Harper, 31, an hour earlier.

"My nephew got shot in the back and then you can't tell his mother nothing, or what happened? Or let us see him?" one tearful woman yelled to a line of police officers. "Please! We're crying out! We're crying out for help!" she said.

Dallas police later said a veteran officer shot Harper in the stomach and hand during a confrontation about 5:15 p.m., killing the unarmed man who had been fighting with the officer.

Neighbors said this is the third time police have shot someone in their community over the last five years.

On two occasions, News 8 cameras caught the crowd being unruly on Tuesday.

Several men tangled in the middle of the street as HD Chopper 8 watched from above. Then, another man tried to pass a police line and got into a shoving match with officers before people in the crowd pulled him back.

The Rev. Earnest Freeney, pastor at the Dixon Circle Missionary Baptist Church, helped keep this tinder box from igniting.

"The ones that's giving the biggest trouble, we got them quiet," Freeney said. "Now the police is starting it back up. Now, they're going to call the riot team. They don't care."

One woman asked North Texas to pray for this area.

"Pray for these people because there's a demon here," she said.

There is a deep mistrust of police, which the city saw for itself on Tuesday afternoon.

Dallas police called Dallas County Sheriff's deputies out for extra manpower.

The Rev. Freeney and Sgt. Proctor from the Dallas Police Gang Unit played the most heroic roles in the middle of the unruly crowd. Both men worked hard to calm flaring tempers by putting their arms around those who were upset in hopes of squelching their anger and preventing a confrontation.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

Officer Rowden's Internal Affairs Resume

911 call transcript before officer-involved shooting

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