DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police in riot gear faced an angry crowd of hundreds that gathered in southern Dallas on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after a suspect was killed in an officer-involved shooting.
Footage from Chopper 11 showed officers putting up crime tape near the scene at 3808 Mural Lane, as at least 150 people gathered around, many visibly upset. More would come. By 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night, the Dallas Police Department estimated that the crowd was upwards of 300 people large.
In an evening news conference, Chief David Brown said that police responded to an emergency call that a victim had been tied up and dragged into a home by “five to six Latin males, all with guns.” Three officers responded to the call and surrounded the home. When police knocked on the door, Brown said, they heard “scurrying” inside the house and windows being broken.
The three officers soon gave chase to four fleeing suspects. One of whom was 31-year-old James Harper. Officer Brian Rowden, an eight-year Dallas Police Department veteran, chased Harper through an alley and over three separate fences, Brown said.
During this time, Brown said, Rowden and Harper were involved in three different fights. A witness saw this from her back porch and left to call police during the second fight.
Rowden told investigators that he was extremely tired from the foot chase and the fighting. “After jumping the third fence after Mr. Harper, Officer Rowden, particularly at this point, was basically out of energy and just clinging to Mr. Harper, who was beating on him,” Brown said.
Harper reportedly told the officer, “You’re gonna have to kill me,” Brown said, at which point Rowden feared for his life, pulled out his gun and shot Harper. The suspect collapsed just as backup police officers arrived. Officers did not find a gun on him, but did find an unspecified amount of cash in his pocket.
Brown said that police arrested one other suspect who fled from the scene. The man was later identified as 36-year-old Arthur Dixon.
The original 911 call was “bogus,” Brown said. No one was tied up and there were no Hispanic men with guns at the house. But police did find crack cocaine in the home and in the yard. Neighbors told authorities that the location was a known drug house. Brown believes that the 911 call may have been placed by a rival drug gang that is part of another neighborhood family. When police called back, Brown said that it was “a number not related to this area at all, and to a person who didn’t speak English.”
“We don’t know how that was manipulated,” Brown added, “but we believe it was bogus, given the facts we have now.”
KRLD Reporter Austin York:
After the crowd formed, police from seven of Dallas substations were called to help control residents in the streets.
Harper’s family lined up near the police tape, set up at Barber Avenue and Dixon Avenue. Officers facing the family donned riot gear. Another group gathered at Dixon Grocery about a block away. Councilman Dwaine Caraway also arrived on scene to try and calm the crowd. “We’re trying to bring the temperature down here so we can thaw it out and figure out what happened,” he said.
While Harper’s family tearfully told reporters that he was shot in the back, Brown said that it was too early to make that conclusion. The Medical Examiner will determine those details. “Entrance wounds and exit wounds of a bullet can look the same,” he said. “We have to be very cautious at this time to determine entrance and exit wounds.”
Harper had a long rap sheet, including numerous counts of manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance and subsequent related probation violations; assault on a security officer; unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon; assault on a public servant; evading arrest; failure to identify as a fugitive from justice; and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
CBS 11 News Reporter Carol Cavazos:
CBS 11 News spoke exclusively with Harper’s father late Tuesday night at the scene of the shooting. He had just dropped off his son moments before the shooting. He knows that his son had a criminal past, but does not think that officers had good reason to kill an unarmed man. “Even if he had a confrontation with the police, he didn’t have anything. You could have Tased my son,” he said. “But for you to just sit up there and kill him? No. I’m through with it.”
Caraway also 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.”
Meanwhile, 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.
Watch Brown’s full press conference below.
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