DALLAS — Chief Eddie Garcia said he is appalled and embarrassed by the actions of two Dallas Police Department officers he has recently placed on administrative leave.
Dash camera video obtained by WFAA showed that, in the early morning hours of May 13, two Dallas Police officers spotted a car taking off from a convenience store without its headlines on. The police then followed that car out of the store's parking lot, turning their siren and lights on to indicate that the driver pull his car over.
The driver, however, did not pull over. Instead, his car took off at a high rate of speed and a brief chase ensued. Because of DPD policy -- namely, that the subject of the pursuit was not wanted for, nor being pulled over for, a violent felony offense -- the officers quickly broke off their pursuit.
But the issue is what happened, or didn't happen, in the immediate aftermath of their decision to no longer pursue the vehicle.
Dash camera footage from the DPD car clearly shows that the vehicle the officers had been chasing along Martin Luther King Boulevard could be seen jumping a curb and crashing along the side of the road immediately after the police car turned off its lights.
Additional security footage that provides another angle of the incident shows the driver of the car blowing through a stop sign and swerving in order to avoid a pedestrian before losing control of his car.
Nineteen seconds later, that same security camera footage shows, the same DPD car that had been in pursuit casually approached the intersection where the crash took place -- before taking a right-hand turn and leaving the scene of the accident.
DPD now acknowledges that its officers didn’t stop to help the victim.
Instead, it was citizens who witnessed the crash that rescued the man from his car, which had become engulfed in flames.
Dash camera footage from the DPD car also included audio in which rookie officer Darrien Robertson and his trainer Sr. Cpl. Leonard Anderson can be heard talking.
"Did you see that?" Robertson can be heard asking his trainer.
"That’s his fault," Anderson, who was driving, replied.
Asked for comment, Chief Garcia said he couldn’t believe what he heard and saw on the tapes.
"It was obvious something happened to the vehicle when it got to the intersection," Garcia said. "To me, that was the most disturbing portion of that tape."
Garcia said he's appalled that his officers left the scene without checking on the driver first.
"I'm embarrassed for the men and women of this department," Garcia said. "This is not what we stand for."
Garcia applauded the witnesses who rushed to the scene to help the victim from the flames.
"Those citizens did an admirable job -- and did a job that our officers should have done," Garcia said.
Garcia said his officers only came back to the scene when they heard the car was on fire.
On body camera footage obtained by WFAA, the officers can be seen arriving back at the scene and running past the car on fire, then heard asking the group of civilians gathered there if the victim got out of the car safely.
As Dallas Fire-Rescue offered CPR to the driver, the civilians angrily grilled the police about what happened.
"Bro, a goddamn police was behind him, man," one of the civilians can be heard saying on the body camera footage. "That's what made him run into the damn thing like that, man. You telling me I'm lying, bro?"
Another reply: "They were chasing him when he hit the tree, and they turned their lights off and turned."
Another civilian reaction: "That [expletive] is not right. What if that was your big brother?"
Garcia said he understands the citizens' concern.
"They should be outraged," he said. "I'm outraged. Everyone who has seen this video is outraged."
The driver survived, and the officers will remain on administrative leave as DPD conducts an internal affairs investigation into the incident, Garcia said.
The officers face possible termination -- but are not likely to face criminal charges at this time, Garcia said. He said that DPD considered charging the officers with failure to stop and render aid, but chose not to do so upon interpreting that state law on such charges only applies when a person clearly caused an accident before fleeing the scene.
In this case, Garcia said, the driver was attempting to flee police and wrecked out on his own.
The officers' lawyer has yet to respond to WFAA's requests for comment.