DALLAS –– A south Dallas man is alleging that two city officers fired at least a dozen bullets at him outside of his apartment earlier this month for no apparent reason.
The allegation comes a week after a Dallas police officer shot a mentally ill man in the abdomen who was standing still with his arms at his sides.
On Oct. 2, David Blair says he was speaking to his brother on a cell phone at his apartment in the 1300 block of Morrell Ave. when a Dallas police cruiser with two patrol officers stopped outside his residence. Officers Richard Cantu and Jesse Aquino exited the vehicle to question Blair.
“He stops and shines a spotlight on my face, so I tell them, ‘Get that spotlight out of my face,’” Blair said.
He said he returned to his apartment where his girlfriend and 3-year-old son were. Blair said the three were moving in, so he was going back and forth into the apartment. A few minutes after returning, he stepped back outside through his front door.
“I open the door and I step out,” he said. “As soon as I step out, the gunfire goes off.”
The barrage of bullets left visible holes in the walls of Blair’s apartment. He said he feared for the safety of his small child.
“I grab my son and his mom and we go back up to the backroom,” he said.
In a release after the incident, Dallas police spokeswoman Sherri Jeffrey said the officers were in the area searching for prostitutes and johns. Jeffrey said the officers shined the squad car’s spotlight to “illuminate the area.” As they drove down Morrell Ave., the light “came to rest on the suspect.”
So Cantu and Aquino exited the vehicle to investigate, which is when Blair ordered them to take the spotlight off of him and said he was going to “get a light.” They said Blair returned and blinded them with a LED spotlight/flashlight, which was later recovered at the home.
Jeffrey says the officers heard what sounded like a gunshot and shot at him as they approached his apartment, she said.
“Officers believed that they were being shot at and returned fire towards suspect Blair,” Jeffrey wrote in a press release.
Blair was eventually arrested for aggravated assault of a public servant.
“I tell them, ‘no, I haven’t shot anybody,’” Blair said.
Police later determined he never fired a weapon and released him after several hours. In addition to the spotlight, police did recover two handguns at the residence, but they were properly registered to Blair.
Civil rights advocate Rev. Ronald Wright is calling for a federal investigation.
“It hurts me to sit here and think that this young kid would have been fatherless because these two officers decided to take his life for no reason,” Wright said.
Ofc. Aquino has been written up before.
In 2011, the department found he falsified information in a police report. According to documents obtained in an open records request, Aquino alleged seeing a suspect wandering in the middle of a road when a “sidewalk was present and available." Aquino wrote that the man also had his right fist clinched. When the officer approached, the man refused to open his hand.
But when he did, the man held a white rock substance that later tested positive for cocaine, the report says. The man attempted to swallow it, which forced Aquino to perform a “palm heel strike” to prevent this.
After the man was arrested, an internal affairs investigation found that there was no sidewalk at that location and that dashcam footage proved that the individual was not walking in the middle of the road as Aquino wrote in his report.
In an addendum to the investigation findings, Aquino wrote that he “did not notice that the sidewalk abruptly ended” and that “there was no intent to mislead or falsify.”
Meanwhile, Blair said he is shaken up; he could’ve been shot over nothing. The charge against him has been dropped, although he was held for having outstanding traffic warrants. He said the 2011 case against Aquino makes him question the officer’s credibility.