DALLAS –– A Dallas County grand jury cleared a police officer who shot a convicted drug dealer during a violent foot chase in 2012 that sparked a near-riot in the Dixon Circle neighborhood.
The grand jury chose to no-bill Ofc. Brian Rowden Wednesday morning.
On July 24, 2012, Rowden and two other officers surrounded a home in the 5300 block of Borquin St. following a report of a kidnapping. Four people ran from the home, one of whom was James Harper. Rowden chased the 31-year-old through the neighborhood, engaging in at least two “physical fights” as Harper sprinted down an alley and hopped three fences.
Chief David Brown said Rowden was “basically out of energy” and “just clinging” to Harper. The officer told investigators that the suspect said, “You’re gonna have to kill me.” Rowden pulled his weapon and shot Harper in the stomach and hand.
Harper died. He was not armed.
Hundreds of residents flooded the crime scene after the officer fired his service weapon. Police in riot gear lined the streets while investigators cased the crime scene. Other than a few minor incidents, the mood of the crowd was fragile but the residents were ultimately nonviolent.
The house where the chase started was filled with drugs and guns. Police recovered a Ruger P95 9mm handgun, a Mosburg 12-gague shotgun, 171 grams of marijuana, 16.1 grams of PCP, 30.1 grams of crack cocaine, 24.1 grams of Xanax and 52.1 grams of Hydrocodone. Police also found 19 more grams of crack cocaine on the path where the suspects fled.
The 911 call that drew officers to the home was bogus. The caller reported seeing five or six armed Hispanic men walk a black man into the home with his hands tied up. Keenan Johnson, 26, was arrested days later for making the call. He was charged with making a false report and later pled guilty, according to court records.
The incident prompted Chief Brown to initiate eight new department policies meant to bolster officer training and transparency. Brown also defended Rowden in the aftermath of the incident, saying he shot because he feared for his life.