DALLAS –– Dallas Police Chief David Brown on Tuesday defended the investigation into the shooting of an eight-year-old boy at a Lake Highlands apartment complex, saying the suspect faces a life sentence if convicted.
In September, D.J. Maiden was shot in the face with a shotgun while playing in the parking lot of the Fox Hollow apartments at 9450 Royal Ln. Brian Cloninger, 46, was arrested at the scene. Police say he’s since admitted to firing on the boy.
In a dimly lit room of a Dallas children's rehabilitation facility this week, Maiden laboriously ate a grilled cheese sandwich. What would be fast work for most kids goes slowly for him because he's missing some of his lower left jaw. He won't even touch his ice cream, his mom says, because he can taste the medicine in it.
Cloninger, who admits to pulling the trigger, is currently being held in the Dallas County Jail, charged with injury to a child. Bond has been set at $2.2 million.
On Tuesday, the Dallas City Council heard complaints that the legal system has been slow to take action in the case. Some who addressed the council said potential punishment for Cloninger is not severe enough and that D.J. Maiden and his family are not getting the help they need.
Carrying the banner of concern is longtime activist Roy Williams, who says the Dallas council has not reached out to the boy’s family. In the public comment portion of the Tuesday meeting, Williams, addressing Mayor Mike Rawlings said, "I need a commitment from you Mr. Mayor, and I'm not going away until I get it."
Williams wanted Rawlings' help in aiding the family. Before the session was over, Rawlings, after having Williams removed from chambers, said he would help.
Police Chief Brown said the charge Cloninger faces carries the heaviest penalty available to prosecutors: a life sentence. Brown said the details in the case have remained sketchy because the only witness to the crime, the victim, is unable to speak.
Family friend Travis Wortham Jr., is calling for a fund to be established for the family. D.J.'s mother has had to quit her job to spend full time with her son in the hospital. Wortham wants resources gathered for reconstructive surgery and family support.
City officials said they will do all they can to accomplish that.