DALLAS, Texas — Things got physical at Dallas' first Community Police Oversight Board meeting Tuesday, an entity that Chief Reneé Hall spearheaded to help make her department more transparent.
It was a big night for Hall. She was in attendance to introduce herself to the board members, who were appointed by City Council members. The chief explained their new duties.
But Hall went from diplomatic leader to a troubled teacher in a schoolyard when residents who wanted to speak before the board realized that public comment wasn't on the agenda.
What followed was a physical clash between Dallas police and community activists.
Before the board adjourned the meeting, someone from the crowd shouted, "So we don't get a chance to speak?"
A number of activists came to the meeting on the heels of the Amber Guyger murder verdict and the shooting of Joshua Brown, a witness in the trial, to express the importance of the newly formed board.
Shouting started to echo throughout the meeting, and things escalated when someone from the crowd shouted at an activist, "Shut up, you ignoramus!"
A number of people got out of their seats and began to get unruly.
Hall yelled for an extraction team to come to the chambers and said into the microphone, "I'm clearing this room, chairman. Can you get my extraction team? We're done."
The chief's comments weren't met kindly as activists started to move towards her and the podium.
Security and police then swarmed inside the room forming a barrier around Hall.
Activists loudly shouted at the chief, still wanting to speak, and that's when WFAA saw a man get pushed by an officer who was attempting to get him into a headlock.
The man ripped off his shirt, escaped the officer, and left the room.
As more people were pushed towards the door, Hall got in the middle of everything and said that the board would allow public comment even though it was not on the agenda.
Tempers calmed, but emotions soon poured into the podium microphone.
A number of people asked for three board members to immediately resign.
Those members are Janice Coffee, James Birdsong, and Tami Brown Rodriguez.
Those members have received criticism for expressing skepticism of an oversight board like Hall had designed, thus not directly supporting a revamp of the previous review board.
Each told WFAA that they don't plan on leaving their positions after the meeting even though they were asked to repeatedly in the unplanned public comment portion of the meeting.
A number of speakers said they would keep coming back to meetings to ask for the members to step down until they did.
Coffee is the longest-serving member on the board.
The meeting ended with words from Chief Hall who only asked for one thing moving forward: "We can't continue to have meetings like this, this is not productive."
The oversight board will have a more involved role with the police department from this point on.
The old board routinely just handled and oversaw low-level complaints against officers. Never did they touch or review critical incidents.
But Tuesday night, Hall revealed that the board would be able to order independent investigations surrounding use-of-force incidents, if they wish.
Board members will be kept aware of the progress of internal use-of-force investigations by a monitor who will head up the Office of Community Police Oversight.
The monitor will work alongside internal affairs during their investigations to make sure that they're being fair, comprehensive, objective, and impartial with protocols per Hall's presentation.
The monitor will report back to the board when everything is complete and provide a report as to if the investigation was fair and just. The board then sends a report to council members.
Board members will also have to undergo training to understand the use-of-force policies within the police department and situations officers are placed in.
Officers, if Chief Hall allows it, can also be questioned by the board and appear before them. The board cannot recommend punishment, however.
Chief Hall has the final say regarding discipline and disposition of the case.
A monitor, per the city, has not been hired yet.
More on WFAA:
- 3 dead, 2 injured in car crash on FM 156 in Fort Worth, MedStar says
- Richardson police looking for suspects who stole woman's phone, threatened to kidnap her child
- Joshua Brown, a witness during the Amber Guyger murder trial, was killed in a drug deal, warrants say
- Man videotaped children through bedroom windows, Tarrant County sheriff says
- Hood County calls itself a 'Second Amendment sanctuary county'