DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Former Dallas police officer Christopher Hess has been found not guilty of aggravated assault in the deadly shooting of Genevive Dawes in January 2017.
The jury returned to deliberations Thursday morning and handed its unanimous verdict at around 12:20 p.m. after they had spent the day before deliberating as well.
Jurors decided Hess, 42, was not guilty of criminal conduct during the deadly shooting.
Prosecutors said Hess fired 12 times at the 21-year-old mother of two.
The state charged Hess with aggravated assault and the evidence used against him was body cam video of the shooting.
Hess was fired for violating the Dallas Police Department’s use of deadly force policy.
Dawes was in a stolen car, backing out and trying to get away from officers. Hess was the only officer to fire multiple times at the car.
The video also showed that there were no other officers on scene that night in the direct path of the car.
Prosecutors argued the decision to shoot Dawes was a crime as she didn’t pose an immediate threat.
Hess’ defense lawyers said he used deadly force because Dawes was using the car as a weapon against officers.
Hess did not take the witness stand in his own defense.
“Your verdict of guilty is sending a message that this conduct would not be accepted in our society, and he needs to held responsible for his actions,” said prosecutor George Lewis during closing arguments.
“Officer Hess was exemplary that night. He remembered what was important. He values human life. He made the only choice available to him,” defense attorney Messina Madson told the jury.
A passenger, identified as 23-year-old Virgilio Rosales, was also in the vehicle at the time but he was not injured. He was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
The Next Generation Action Network released the following statement on the verdict:
Next Generation Action Network is heartbroken to hear the news that the family of Genevive Dawes will not be receiving justice for her murder. We still stand by the video evidence that Ms. Dawes didn’t pose a threat to the officer. That being said, this is a huge miscarriage of Justice. This is why our organization is fighting every day to reform the broken police culture in Dallas. We are grateful to the prosecutor who tried to give this family justice, but a jury didn’t see fit to convict. As you can see, it is still very hard to hold an officer accountable in America; this case is a clear example of that climate. Christopher Hess murdered Genevie Dawes, in cold blood, and should have been convicted today.