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Lone Witness In South Dallas Cop Shooting Speaks

Jay Gormley, CBS 11 News
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The only known person to witness the scuffle between Dallas police officer Brian Rowden and suspected drug dealer James Harper provided her account of the shooting to CBS 11 News.

The 82-year-old witness, who does not want be identified for fear of retribution, says both men were wrestling in her backyard. However, the witness says she did not see any punches being thrown.

“Tussling. They were like fighting,” recalled the witness, “He’s trying to push the police back and the police is trying to pull him to put the cuffs on him,” she added.

The witness says she watched the altercation from her back patio. She says it appeared that officer Rowden had gotten the upper hand, because the officer was standing over Harper as Harper laid on the ground. “The police was standing over that boy. He was holding his gun and he was telling him to let him handcuff him,” explained the witness.

Dallas police say officer Rowden may have lost the upper hand when he tried to handcuff the suspect. DPD Spokesman, Lt. Scott Walton, says the officer likely secured his weapon, because he needed both hands to cuff Harper.

Lt. Walton says as the officer tried to handcuff Harper, the suspect started fighting back. “At this time, Mr. Harper said you’re going to have to kill me,” said Dallas Police Chief David Brown during a Tuesday night news conference. “Officer Rowden fearing for his life, pulled out his weapon, being beaten by Mr. Harper, shot Mr. Harper,” Chief Brown added.

The witness, however, never saw or heard this account because she had gone inside her house to call 911. “When I’m talking to 911, the gun goes off. I come back to the door and I see this boy laying like that,” the witness said.

MORE: Crowd Gathers After Officer-Involved Shooting

The witness says she heard two shots, and when she came back out, the 82-year-old says she saw Harper with what appeared to be two gunshot wounds to his back.

Dallas police maintain the suspect was shot in the stomach and the hand, and they say the report from the medical examiner will prove that Harper was not shot in the back.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Police Department says it has no immediate plans to release the 911 call made by the witness, because police are holding it as evidence for the Special Investigations Unit.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office Wednesday ruled Harper’s death a homicide due to Gun Shot Wounds.  When asked where Harper had been shot, CBS 11 was told that information would have to come from Dallas Police.

(© Copyright 2012 CBSDFW.COM, CBS Local Media a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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