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Dallas City Council grills police chief about officers' use of force during local protests

Could the Dallas police budget be in jeopardy after its response to local protests? Council and residents voice concerns during special meeting.

DALLAS — The Dallas Police Department, its officers, and police chief were the hot topics of discussion during a special Dallas City Council meeting that lasted well into the evening on Friday.

More than 200 people signed up to speak during the virtual meeting that was loaded with technical difficulties during the public comment section.

“This is the time for us to listen and learn,” said Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.

The meeting was scheduled to discuss the City’s response to protests over the killing of George Floyd. The man died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, while he was face down on the street, handcuffed, and shouting he could not breathe, until he laid unresponsive. 

RELATED: 8:46: A number becomes a potent symbol of police brutality

”I have been horrified by what I’ve seen unfold in our city,” one caller told council members. 

”I was shot in the head with a rubber bullet,” Dr. Pamela Grayson shared as she spoke.

Many of the callers spent time blasting Dallas police and Chief Renee Hall.

“DPD has spent the last week eroding what little trust they had,” another caller said.

Among the complaints, many callers spoke out about the chaotic scene that escalated between peaceful protesters and officers on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge on Monday night.

”DPD risked turning our bridge into the Edmund Pettus Bridge,” caller Jason Marshall said. 

Some protesters told city leaders the large group was sandwiched on both sides by police while trying to walk across the bridge. Smoke was launched into the crowd.

Councilman Jaime Resendez asked Chief Hall, “Would you do anything different?”

Hall replied, “The decisions I made at the time, I believe were the right decisions.”

More than 600 protesters were cuffed with zip ties and detained on the bridge for hours. Charges against those protesters were later dropped.

RELATED: Dallas police chief says she won't file criminal charges against more than 600 protesters

”I am now terrified to be an active citizen of my new city,” another caller cried.

Some residents and council members are now suggesting it may be time to divert some of DPD’s more than half-billion dollar budget into other agencies and vulnerable communities.

“Dallas cannot afford a George Floyd situation,” said Councilman Casey Thomas. 

RELATED: What do protesters want? Here are 10 demands sent to the Dallas Police Department, local leaders

Some council members voiced their opposition to defunding the Dallas Police Department. They pointed out homicides and other violent crimes continue across the City of Dallas. 

Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough said he believes Chief Hall has sincere intentions. He questions what the overall strategies were in several incidents.

Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold addressed her concerns about the special meeting. She described the line of questioning toward Chief Hall as a lynching.

Arnold said, “What we are doing now, we are participating in a setup against Chief Hall and Mr. T.C. Broadnax. I’m appalled and I’m insulted.”

Hall told members of city council she stands by her decisions, given the information she had at the time in each situation.

Mayor Johnson asked the chief of police, "Where would you say the buck stops in the Dallas Police Department?”

“It stops with me,” Hall replied.

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