Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Dallas Police Officer Shoots Man 41 Times, Other Officers Investigated for Taking and Trying to Destroy Witness's Video and Photo Evidence

Last month here in the Dallas area -- actually, in the city of Mesquite, which sets smack dab inside Dallas' city limits -- a man named Michael Vincent Allen got into a high speed car chase with the police and it's reported that there were times that speeds exceeded 100 mph as police cars from various law enforcement jurisdictions joined in the chase.

Police Officer Crashes Patrol Car Into Suspect's Vehicle - And Shoots Him 41 Times

It lasted around 30 minutes, according to news reports - Mr. Allen behind the wheel of a pickup, speeding along - and it ended when Mr. Allen turned into a cul-de-sac and, according to the police officers that were there, then tried to exit the cul-de-sac by slamming his pick up through two police sedans that had slammed into position, blocking the cul-de-sac's exit.   Mr. Allen's truck didn't push aside the two patrol cars, and the chase was over.  However, other reports are that after Mr. Allen turned the truck around in the cul-de-sac, a Garland police officer named Patrick Tuter slammed into the pickup to prevent Allen from driving any further.

This second version of things has been verified by the police in an updated version of events issued several days later, with confirmation that Tuter's dashcam video confirmed the patrol car crashed into the pick up truck to stop it, and that Allen didn't try to slam his GMC pickup into the police car.

That was not the end of the story.  Because then Mr. Allen died - died after being shot there in the driver's seat of his pick-up truck, blocked by the patrol cars in a Mesquite cul-de-sac.  He was shot by Officer Tuter who fired over and over and over again: Mr. Allen was shot with police bullets FORTY-ONE TIMES.  (You can see video of the truck in the aftermath online here.)

41 times: it means that the police officer had to stop, think, reload his weapon, and keep shooting.  Some reports are that this took three clips from Officer Tuter's gun to achieve.  Which means he reloaded TWICE.   It's not disputed that Mr. Allen was not armed.  There was no gun in the pickup truck.  No one shot first at an officer. 

Officer Tuter defends his actions as not being excessive force but instead a reasonable response as he feared for his life.  (Read about Texas law and excessive force on our web site reference pages.)  Right now, he's on restricted duty.

However, as bad as this story is - and it's very bad - it gets worse.

Police Officers Take Mobile Phone From Witness -- and Destroy Video/Photos On It

Because other police officers on the scene are alleged to have tried to destroy evidence of what happened on that cul-de-sac.  Seems a man who lived in that cul-de-sac not only watched what was going on, but took video and photographed the event.  According to this man, Mitchell Wallace, he didn't see the shooting but he did see the female passenger (who was not hit by the bullets, wow) being pulled from the truck's cab by the cops and he did see the police send their dog into the cab, where the dog bit Mr. Allen on the neck and then drug him out of the truck to lay face down on the street.  Wallace documented all of this, plus the police turning the body over to check for a pulse.

Here's the thing:  Wallace's mobile phone video and photos were taken by law enforcement at the scene, and when the phone was returned to him, this stuff was missing from it.  Gone.  Erased. 

So now there are other law enforcement officers being investigated for messing with evidence.  As well as destroying property that didn't belong to them.  (There's some stories that the evidence may still be available and some investigator just took the SIM card out of Mr. Wallace's phone.)

Under Texas law, the police do not have the right to take personal property like Mr. Wallace's phone or anything inside it unless there is probable cause to believe it's been part of a crime that has been committed.  No one is arguing that Mitchell Wallace, using his phone from his own home to document what was happening on the street outside, was committing any crime.

It's being called not only a case of Excessive Force against a Texas citizen on a summer night here in Dallas that ended in a man dead on the street, but a cover up by his colleagues who didn't want to have filmed evidence of what happened that night. 

For more information, read our posts:
Do not let these stories stop you from using your phone to document things that you believe are important to record.  

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