DALLAS The mother of a 31-year-old man whose shooting death at the hands of an officer spurred outrage and protest in the Dixon Circle community has filed a lawsuit against the city of Dallas and the officer.
Sandra Harper filed a wrongful-death suit Tuesday evening in the death of her son, James Harper. Mrs. Harper accuses the officer of using excessive force, the Dallas Police Department of racial profiling and false arrest and the city of Dallas and DPD of failure to train.
Mr. Harper was shot by Officer Brian Rowden after police were called to a home where a tipster claimed a kidnap victim was being held. The call was later determined to be a bogus tip.
On that day on July 12, 2012, Harper fled from the back of the home on foot as police appeared at the scene. In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Mrs. Harper alleges her son was unaware it was police at the home and believed someone may have been trying to break inside the residence.
'Once outside, [Mr.] Harper jumped a fence as he ran away but was grabbed from behind by a Dallas Police Officer identified as Defendant Brian Rowden, for no lawful reason,' the suit alleges. '[Mr.] Harper had not committed any crime when Defendant Rowden initiated a foot pursuit in which the deadly conduct began and was not aware of what was going on or who was pursuing him.'
Mr. Harper was shot three times as he fled from Rowden during a physical foot chase. According to Dallas police Chief David Brown, Harper and Rowden became involved in at least two physical fights before the officer fired the shots into the suspect's hand and stomach.
In December of 2013, a grand jury cleared the officer of any wrongdoing. However, Mrs. Harper alleges witnesses at the scene saw Rowden attack her unarmed son twice as he fought back in fear of his life.
'Harper at all times was attempting to fend off the vicious and unprovoked attack by Defendant Rowden and was not attempting to harm Defendant Rowden when he was shot in cold blood,' the lawsuit reads.
Mrs. Harper says her son suffered multiple internal and external injuries before he was shot. Police say Rowden also suffered injuries to his arms. Rowden said at the time, he believed Harper was armed and said the suspect told him he would have to kill him several times during the chase and altercations.
After the gunshots rang out that July day, Dixon Circle residents gathered near the crime scene and police in riot gear lined the streets. There was no further violence that day, but residents expressed outrage and one officer fired several rounds of pepper-ball to disperse the upset crowd.
According to police, detectives found weapons, marijuana, crack cocaine, Xanax and Hydrocodone inside the home.
In the lawsuit, Mrs. Harper points to the 'longstanding record' of training within the Dallas Police Department.
'The actual practice or custom of the DPD regarding the use of deadly force is to 'shoot first and ask questions later,'' the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also alleges Rowden 'clearly and wrongly used race as a factor, a proxy, for reasonable suspicion and using excessive and deadly force on Harper.'
Harper's attorney, Daryl Kevin Washington, has filed several lawsuits recently aimed the Dallas Police Department. Among those was a case file by Washington In June on behalf of Albert Butler, a hearing impaired man who claims he was pulled over with no probable cause and then beaten after he was drug out of dash cam view.
Also in June, the Dallas City Council agreed to pay the family of Tobias Mackey $900,000. Unarmed, Mackey was fatally shot by a Dallas police officer in October of 2010.