DALLAS, TX — Disturbing video evidence contradicts a pair of Dallas police officers in their account of shooting a supposedly knife-wielding man. A residential surveillance camera shows the mentally ill man standing in the middle of a cul-du-sac, with his arms hanging at his sides, making no motions towards officers, when they shot him for no apparent reason.
On Monday, October 14, two Dallas police officers pulled into a cul-du-sac to deal with a man who was seen sitting in a rolling swivel chair in the middle of a neighborhood cul-du-sac. The man was 52-year-old Bobby Gerald Bennett, who lived on the street and allegedly suffered from mental illness — schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The two officers parked their car and walked toward the man. Bennett can be seen on video rolling his chair about ten feet backwards and then standing straight up. Video of the incident shows that his arms were at his sides and he was just standing, facing officers from a distance of roughly 15 feet.
Officer Cardan Spencer raised his gun and shot Bennett 4 times in the abdomen. Bennett collapsed to the ground.
The officers had been on the scene for only a matter of seconds before killing Bennett. The video documents it all. At roughly 0:05 the officers emerge from their vehicle and casually walk toward Bennett as he sat in his chair. At 0:17, Bennett stands up and the officer raises his weapon. At 0:22, Bennett was on the ground.
It took officers about 17 seconds to shoot Bennett. See the video here:
All of this took place in front of onlooking neighbors and surrounded by houses. Bullets whizzed into windows of one neighboring house.
“Had someone been in that home, they could have been shot as well or maybe killed,” said Joyce Jackson, the victim’s mother.
A disputed police report
The official police report states that Bennett took “several steps toward them with the knife raised in an aggressive manner.”
Claiming to be“in fear” for his and his partner’s safety, Spencer “fired his duty weapon four times,” striking Bennett in the abdomen, the affidavit states.
But the video does not appear support their claim.
The man who recorded the event — Maurice Bunch, Bennett’s neighbor — witnessed the shooting first hand and saw no knife, no aggression, and no charging towards officers.
Bunch said in dallasnews.com, “They were coming at him and he just scooted his chair back. He stood up. At that point, they drew their weapons and said, ‘Freeze.’ They may have said ‘Drop the knife.’ They just waited for about four or five seconds and they just opened fire on him… They were trying to kill him.”
Officer Spencer claimed that Bennett told them, “You all are gonna need more officers out here.”
But Bunch emphatically says that didn’t happen. He watched all 17 seconds that police were on the scene
“That’s a lie,” he said. “They were trying to kill him.”
Bennett survived the attack and is recovering in the hospital.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown says that the incident is in the “very early stages” of investigation. Spencer has been put on administrative leave.
“It’s the officers that need something done to them,” said Jackson. “This is not right. Any way I see this is wrong.”
UPDATE: Officer Cardan Spencer has been indicted by a grand jury and will face a criminal charge for gunning down a man in the street without provocation.
The original charge against Bobby Bennett — aggravated assault against a police officer — was dropped after the video showed a contradiction in the officer’s account. Dallas Police Chief David Brown, to his credit, did the right thing and fired the officer.
Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston said he is “disgusted and alarmed” by the decision to punish Officer Spencer. Speaking on behalf of the Association, he has opposed the firing of the officer and also opposed the indictment. Rogue trigger-happy cops are acceptable in the view of the DPA.