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Tensions Remain High Following Dallas Officer-Involved Shooting

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Residents of the Dixon Circle neighborhood in Dallas remain on edge the day after a Dallas Police officer shot a man he was chasing.

The officer, 8-year veteran officer Brian Rowden, says he was exhausted and feared for his life when he shot 31-year-old James Harper after he and two other men led Rowden on a foot chase.

A prayer service at noon Wednesday brought a small crowd of Harper’s family members to Dixon Circle Missionary Baptist Church.  The service also brought with it a large police presence at grocery store across the street.

img 20120725 00034 Tensions Remain High Following Dallas Officer Involved Shooting

A number of Dallas Police cars line up across the street from Dixon Circle Missionary Baptist Church the day after a Dallas Police officer shot and killed a suspect during a foot chase. (Robbie Owens/CBSDFW)

MORE: Crowd Gathers After Officer-Involved Shooting

Following the service, Harper’s Aunt addressed media and the crowd that had gathered to show appreciation for the crowd and to say the family was waiting for the police investigation into the shooting to be resolved.

But questions remain for many, ranging from where the suspect was shot to if the shooting was justified are still under investigation.

Community Activist Reverend Ronald Wright told KRLD Wednesday morning deadly force wasn’t necessary, but Juanita Wallace, the president of the Dallas Chapter of the NAACP, urged everyone to step back and take a deep breath before rushing to judgement.  “Mourn for the family, and mourn for the victim, but do not jump to judgement, wait until we get all the facts, and when we do get all the facts, deal with them.”

Wallace went to the scene last night and says she was relieved police and residents remained civil.  She told KRLD she was impressed that Chief David Brown came in from vacation and got first-hand answers.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dewaine Caraway spoke with CBS 11 News early Wednesday morning. “It’s very important that we today, this morning, along with the investigation and Chief Brown, bring answers to the family and to this community,” Caraway said. “There are a lot of things that are taking place, a lot of unanswered concerns and questions, and we must answer those questions today.”

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings released a statement on the shooting Wednesday:

My confidence in the Dallas Police Department and Chief Brown has never been higher. Crime has never been lower and we are on our ninth year of crime reduction. We were tested last night and Chief Brown is thouroughly investigating the incident to ensure no civil rights were violated.

As this case is examined let me be clear, Dallas has a zero tolerance for civil rights violations as well as a zero tolerance for bad people dealing drugs.

Others, however, were quick to point to heightened violence as a call for change within Dallas Police.  In a press release, State Representative Eric Johnson called for more dialogue in the community.

“This latest incident highlights an unhealthy level of frustration building in the community and we should immediately take steps to address it,” said Johnson. “An open dialogue between the police and the community could lead to a greater confidence in the police on the part of the community, safer working conditions for the police, and most importantly, reverse the increase in police related shootings in Dallas.”

The city has been proactive in working on their relationship in neighborhoods like Dixon Circle – both city and state representatives have mentioned neighborhood crime numbers in their statements.

Rowden is being placed on administrative leave while an internal investigation is completed. Investigators will second-guess each part of the incident, Brown said, including whether Rowden rightfully used a gun on Harper to defend himself from danger.

In a release Wednesday afternoon, DPD announced they would release a transcript of the initial 911 kidnapping call that Chief Brown referred to as ‘bogus’ during a press conference Tuesday night.  The department also released a second 911 call that came in during the fight between Rowden and Harper.

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.

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