Chief Brown Asks for Patience in Shooting Investigation

Chief says witnesses, evidence support officer's account of shooting

Thursday, Jun 7, 2012  |  Updated 12:10 AM CDT
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For the first time, Dallas police fielded questions Wednesday about the fatal shooting by an officer of a man stopped on a traffic stop Saturday.

Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News

For the first time, Dallas police fielded questions Wednesday about the fatal shooting by an officer of a man stopped on a traffic stop Saturday.

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The Dallas Police Department held a news conference Wednesday to discuss an officer-involved shooting that took place last Saturday night.

Chief David Brown, who spoke for about 45 minutes, said the department had not received a formal report from the Dallas County medical examiner about the victim's gunshot wound.

The Medical Examiner's Office told NBC 5 that John Robert Husband was killed by a gunshot wound to the back.

"I understand being shot in the back rises it above and beyond a normal occurrence," Brown said.

Husband's family and the two people in the car with him told reporters that Husband was handcuffed and running away when he was shot in the back. Police say Officer Leland Limbaugh shot Husband when he reached for a gun in his waistband.

Brown said witness interviews and evidence support Limbaugh's account of the incident.

"Their accounts to some of your media agencies are different than what we have on video and audio," he said. "They are different. They are different; they contradict each other."

Brown also attempted to defuse the idea that race was a factor in the shooting. He said Husband was black and that Limbaugh is Latino, not white.

“Race shouldn't matter, but I'm being practical about this -- for some people, it does, so I wanted to say, the reports about Officer Limbaugh being white were erroneous and inaccurate," he said. "He is Hispanic.”

Brown urged community leaders to not jump to conclusions about race simply because Limbaugh and Husband were of different races.

Brown also asked for patience from the public and the media as the investigation unfolds. He stressed that the police department understands sharing information with the public is important, but that they will only release information when they believe they have factual information to share.

"It's important for us to be right, so much so that if we have to take the criticism with the delay of information, then we have to," he said.

The shooting happened at about 6 p.m. Saturday at an apartment complex in the 3600 block of Folklore Trail near Kiest Boulevard and South Polk Street in Dallas.

Police said Limbaugh pulled Husband over for failing to signal a turn and smelled marijuana coming from the car. When asked if there were weapons in the car, Husband told the officer there were not, police said.

Limbaugh saw the handle of a gun in Husband's waistband when he asked him to step out of the car and submit to a pat-down, according to the police statement.

Police said Limbaugh went to handcuff Husband right away and told him not to reach for the gun. A struggle ensued, and Husband got his right hand free and reached for the gun, police said.

Limbaugh, fearing for his life, fired one shot, hitting Husband in the left shoulder blade, Dallas police said. The officer then pulled the fully loaded .40 caliber handgun from Husband's hand and placed it on the hood of the cruiser as he waited for backup and an ambulance to arrive, police said.

Husband was transported to Methodist Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Brown also clarified that Limbaugh, who was not injured, was placed on special assignment, not paid leave.

The shooting is being investigated internally, as is done with any officer-involved shooting. Brown said it could be six months before the department completes its investigation. Ultimately, the department will not decide where the case goes from there, he said.

"The police department doesn't recommend whether an officer's shooting was justified or right or wrong -- the grand jury decides that," Brown said.

Husband was the sixth person shot and killed by Dallas police this year.

NBC 5's Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

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