DALLAS — More than seven years after the shooting death of a 31-year-old man set off protests and outrage in the Dixon Circle community of South Dallas, the former police officer who fired the fatal shots has been found not liable in his death.
On Thursday, a federal civil jury decided that Brian Rowden did not use excessive force when he shot James Harper three times during a foot chase on July 24, 2012.
Two years after his death, Harper's mother, Sandra Harper, filed the wrongful-death lawsuit accusing Rowden of excessive and deadly force and racial profiling.
Daryl Washington, Harper's attorney, said although the civil lawsuit was not in their favor, he believes it brought out new evidence since a 2013 Dallas County grand jury declined to indict Rowden.
"The investigation was poorly conducted," he said. "It was clearly a cover-up in this, and we don't say this very lightly at all. We feel that someone needs to look into this case."
Washington said he believes a third-party investigator needs to dig into the case.
Seven years since the incident, neighbors still remember that day in 2012.
It started when Dallas police received an anonymous 911 call reporting an armed kidnapping in the South Dallas neighborhood of Dixon Circle. The tip was later determined to be a hoax.
When police arrived to the home of the alleged kidnapping, Harper fled out the backdoor on foot. His mother said she believes her son didn't know it was police and thought someone was breaking into the home.
Rowden chased after Harper, who police say jumped several fences and physically struggled with the officer several times before he was shot. Rowden said he believed Harper was reaching for a gun when he eventually shot the the 31-year-old man.
Harper was unarmed.
"This whole block was covered with people and law enforcement," said Yoketa Johnson, who grew up with Harper. "Everyone was upset. Everyone was angry. They were exchanging words."
Johnson said Harper was like a cousin to her.
"It's not over," said Betty Williams, a friend of the Harper family. "To his family, it's not over."