Retired DPD Chief: ‘I Knew Exactly What To Do’

David Brown Reflects on Deadly Downtown Ambush

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – He is credited with helping keep the City of Dallas together in the face of tragedy, loss and anger.

One year after the Dallas ambush, the impact of losing several officers remains fresh in the mind of former chief David Brown.

“I’ll never be the same,” said Brown.

It was a moment that forever changed Dallas. A seemingly peaceful protest against police brutality turned violent just as the clock struck 9 p.m.

“The whole night was gut-wrenching. The decision-making was tough,” said Brown. “You felt very isolated. Who knows how it was going to turn out?”

A series of programs are being planned throughout Dallas. The goal of these events is to, first, remember the four Dallas police officers and one DART police officer who were killed in the sniper attack. But organizers also want to unite the city, ensuring that everyone — both police officers and citizens — feel like they have a safe place to go and reflect.

It was July 7, 2016 when at 8:57 p.m. a flurry of gunshots from an assault rifle echoed in downtown Dallas.

“You don’t know if it’s one gunman or two. You don’t know if it’s terrorism,” said Brown.

And as officers scrambled to take cover and rescue their injured brothers and sister in blue, the decisions were in the hands of Brown.

“It’s eerie to describe now, but I felt calm,” said Brown. “I knew exactly what to do.”

Still taking fire, officers chased shooter Micah X. Johnson into El Centro College where he eventually barricaded himself on the second flood.

“Micah Johnson had killed five officers and was bragging about wanting to kill more. Laughing and joking,” said Brown.

The negotiations went nowhere that night, according to Brown. Thus, his team decided to use a bomb-equipped robot to take out Johnson.

Brown said any other option would have put more officers at risk for injury or death.

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d use C-4 to end that siege,” said Brown. “Without question.”

In the days that followed the ambush, Brown was praised not only by the citizen he served, but the accolades came from all over the country… including from President Barack Obama.

Just prior to the sniper attack, some were calling for the firing of Brown due to low moral and ongoing pension issues.

“It didn’t bother me and I think it comes with the territory and it’s what we sign up for,” said Brown. “These jobs are not meant to last forever and they’re not easy jobs. I tell commanders when I promote them, eat your Wheaties. It’s a contact sport.”

Brown retired in October due to that outpouring of support.

“I feel like public servants should be serving the public and not be self-serving and being heralded,” said Brown. “I think public servants are at their best when they have to scratch, claw for every inch.

While he has stepped away from DPD, the city and department remain near to his heart.

“I will always love Big D. (It’s) my home,” said Brown.

What remains even closer to him, are the memories of the five officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“I would just say to them, your family loves you… I know you know that. And this department loves you, but also this city and this nation loves you,” said Brown.

After retiring, Brown released a book and now spends his time as a consultant for a private security firm.

A series of programs are being planned throughout Dallas. The goal of these events is to, first, remember the four Dallas police officers and one DART police officer who were killed in the sniper attack. But organizers also want to unite the city, ensuring that everyone — both police officers and citizens — feel like they have a safe place to go and reflect.

ONLINE: WeekendOfHonor.com

Specifics about the ‘Weekend of Honor’ events were unveiled at a news conference on Tuesday. You can see the full list on the weekend’s website. It includes a tribute, a festival, a 5K race, an award ceremony, an attempt to break the record for Longest Chain of People Making Heart-Shaped Hand Gestures, and more.

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