Reverend: Civil rights group to probe officer-involved shooting




Posted on July 25, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 25 at 1:52 PM

DALLAS - Civil rights activist Rev. Ronald Wright led a news conference Wednesday questioning the way Dallas police handled an officer-involved shooting that turned deadly in southeast Dallas Tuesday night.

Wright and others with the organization Justice Seekers Texas said police were heavy handed when they shot and killed 31-year-old James Harper during a lengthy foot chase.

Wright said Harper was unarmed and running away from police and that the officer could have used his radio to call for help instead of shooting and killing Harper.

The incident, according to the civil rights activist, shows the disparity between the way suspects in Dallas are treated. Wright said Dallas police are willing to shoot suspects in South Dallas while using Tasers on suspects in North Dallas.

Justice Seekers Texas wants to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting death of Harper. Wright said he's talking to witnesses and is awaiting the autopsy report from the medical examiner. The activist said he is not convinced Harper wasn't shot in the back.

At this time, the medical examiner said he can only say Harper died from a gunshot wound.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said veteran Officer Brian Rowden shot and killed Harper in self defense while fearing for his life. Rowden chased Harper down alleys, over fences and got into three physical fights with Harper before firing in self defense, the chief said. He said Harper told the officer at one point during the chase, "You'll have to kill me."

Police said Rowden shot Harper in the hand and stomach. They confirmed Harper did not have a weapon.

Authorities said the incident happened while they were responding to a 911 call for a kidnapping in southeast Dallas, which they later discovered was a hoax call. They said officers arrived at the address in time to see several men running away from the house. Police said one of the men on the run was Harper. Police said they have been unable to identify who made the 911 call.