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DPD Officer Who Shoved Protester Now On Restrictive Duty, Investigation Ordered

By Matt Goodman, CBSDFW.COM
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police Chief David Brown has placed an officer on restrictive duty after investigators found a YouTube video showing him shove an Occupy Dallas protester off a planter.

The officer was off duty and standing in front of the Bank of America building when about 150 protesters marched to it on Nov. 5. The YouTube video, uploaded Thursday, clearly shows the officer shoving a long-haired man holding a flag off a four-foot planter in front of the building.

The man tumbles from the planter and falls into the street. A video posted from a different angle shows separate on-duty officers grappling with the man over the flag in the street below. The man breaks away, and two officers fall down chasing him.

Dallas Police initially said the officer was working a security shift for Bank of America. They corrected that piece of information Saturday. He was not working for the building, and was off-duty.

While a Dallas police news release Friday did not mention the protester’s name, the Occupy Dallas camp says it is Stephen Benavides, 30, who was charged with assaulting a public servant during the Bank of America protest.

After his arrest, a small riot broke out in the crowd. Seven others were arrested that day on more minor charges, including improper use of a sidewalk. Because of the YouTube video, Brown has ordered that the city not go forward with the charges until an investigation is complete.

“In light of this development, the Police Department has requested that the Dallas County District Attorney and the Dallas City Attorney proceed no further with the criminal cases alleged to have occurred until further consultation takes place,” read the news release.

This is the first video to surface showing that the officer shoved Benavides. Brown said earlier this week that an initial investigation indicated no wrongdoing on the part of police.

For the past week, Occupy Dallas and the city have been at odds about who started the small riot downtown on Nov. 5.

The city has said that Benavides would not get down from the planter and became aggressive, eventually attempting to punch a police officer. The Occupy camp has maintained that Benavides was pushed, and that the security officer’s actions are what caused the incident to escalate.

“Officer Hollis walks up to me and says ‘get your a– off the planter,'” Benavides said. “I said, ‘Who are you talking to?’ And it was a split second decision on his part to shove me off the planter and I was flying into the street.”

The city has given the group until 5 p.m. Saturday to fix a number of violations at its campsite south of City Hall or face eviction. An attorney representing Occupy Dallas has applied for an injunction that would stop that decision. Jonathan Wincour, the group’s attorney, said the two have come to an agreement and the Occupy encampment will remain intact through the weekend.

The officer, who has not been identified by police, is on restricted duty while the department conducts an investigation. While on restricted duty, the officer is not allowed to work any off-duty security assignments.

Police ask if anyone has other footage from that day, or would like to contribute a statement, to call 214.671.3986.

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