Rawlings: Video of officer shooting mentally ill man is 'disturbing'

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on October 22, 2013 at 5:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 22 at 6:41 PM

DALLAS –– Mayor Mike Rawlings said Tuesday that he has watched surveillance footage of Dallas Ofc. Cardan Spencer shooting a mentally ill man in the abdomen and found it “disturbing.” 

Clearly this is a serious issue,” Rawlings said in an emailed statement. “Interim City Manager A.C. Gonzalez has briefed me about the process involved. I’m confident that the Dallas Police Department will move forward with its criminal investigation into this incident in an appropriate and expedient fashion.” 

The video, which the police department has had in its possession since last Monday, was captured on Oct. 14 by a neighbor. It shows Ofc. Spencer firing four shots at Bobby Gerald Bennett, who pushed a rolling chair he was sitting in backward and stood straight up with his hands at his sides as Spencer and his partner approached him. 

Joyce Jackson, Bennett's mother, called police when her son became agitated and began pacing outside in the street. She told the dispatcher he was off his antipsychotic medication and that he may have had a knife. 

In an affidavit in which Bennett is alleged to have assaulted a public servant, the officer writes that Bennett “took several steps toward them with the knife raised in an aggressive manner.” The surveillance footage shows Bennett never walked toward officers and never raised either arm. 

He remains hospitalized at Baylor Medical Center. Police have dropped all criminal charges against him.

Spencer has been placed on indefinite leave. His partner, who did not fire his weapon, was not reprimanded. Robert Rogers, Spencer’s attorney, has said “the facts and circumstances known to Officer Spencer at the time completely justify his actions.” 

The department did not comment on the tape until News 8 reported about it on Thursday. 

And until Tuesday afternoon, more than a week after it was acquired from neighbor Maurice Bunch, Rawlings hadn’t seen it either. He said Friday that he was waiting to speak with Police Chief David Brown, a meeting that is expected to happen later this week. 

“Look, we have to deal with this issue,” Rawlings said Tuesday. “I want to get it correct and we are going to get to the bottom of this very quickly."

Brown has offered up little information, saying he's waiting for the investigation to be complete. On Monday, Brown for 40 minutes did not allow media to attend a public meeting until City Hall granted reporters access. 

He again declined to comment on the investigation. 

“Look we are dealing with people's lives, people's reputations and the future safety of Dallas so we have to make sure we do it quickly but we have to do it correctly,” Rawlings said.

News 8 has learned there have been top-level meetings throughout the day Tuesday to determine the fate of Ofc. Spencer. 

Email rlopez@wfaa.com

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