A video released Tuesday by a law firm shows a Fort Worth police officer shooting a man in the back, but police and the man’s lawyer disagree about whether the shooting was justified.
David Collie, the man shot by Fort Worth police, released the video of his shooting through his attorney Nate Washington after seeing an unrelated video on Facebook of a Fort Worth officer wrestling two women to the ground who called for help and arresting them.
One of the women had called police for help after a man allegedly grabbed and choked her 7-year-old son after accusing him of littering.
That officer has now been placed on restricted duty.
"Unfortunately, what we've seen from the Fort Worth police officer in that video is not an isolated incident. Many members of our community have been assaulted, handled roughly by Fort Worth police officers," Washington said. "To be clear, we believe the vast majority of police officers are good and decent people."
The newly-released video, obtained by Washington from the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, shows an officer-involved shooting from July 27, 2016 where an off-duty Fort Worth police officer and an off-duty deputy with the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office responded to a reported robbery at a gas station near Las Vegas Trail and South Normandale Street.
Police said one of the armed men pulled out a silver handgun and robbed someone they had met to purchase items the victim was trying to sell online.
The officers drove to a nearby apartment complex in the 8700 block of North Normandale Street to look for the armed men, described as two shirtless black men, according to a Fort Worth Police Department news release sent out after the shooting.
The officers spotted a man at the apartment complex, now identified as Collie, who they believed matched the description of one the armed men.
According to police, Collie walked away from them and refused the officers' verbal commands to put his hands up. Police also said Collie pulled a silver box cutter out of his pocket and pointed it at the deputy sheriff; that's when the Fort Worth police officer shot him in the lower torso, according to the Fort Worth statement.
While agreeing that a police report said a box cutter was found 10 feet away from where Collie was shot, Washington said the police account that Collie threatened officers with a box cutter is fiction and that his client didn't have a box cutter in his hand.
Speaking specifically of the dashcam video, Washington said, "I wasn't there that night. I do know what I saw. I know I never saw this man with a weapon. I never saw this man advance toward the officers. I know I saw him get shot in his back."
Washington said the city has refused to turn over any records on the shooting.
"The process that they ask us to trust is essentially, 'Let us do what we want to do, we will not be transparent at all, and then we'll tell you what we concluded,'" he said.
Collie was hospitalized for 61 days and is now paralyzed from below the abdomen, according to Washington. He was charged with aggravated assault on a public servant, but a grand jury dismissed the case against him, Washington said possibly because Collie could not be seen in the video holding any weapon.
"There are conflicting reports in the different city police reports they have written, they have various different narratives and they're inconsistent," Washington said.
Washington said the shooting is another example of excessive force by Fort Worth police. He is considering a lawsuit against the city, but no lawsuit has yet been filed.
"We've gotten calls from attorneys across the city, who said, 'I have videos as well, I have photographs of what happened to my client,' and so we're investigating the culture and the practice of the City of Fort Worth," Washington said.
"We want justice for David. We want change, but we also want peace and calm from the community after they see this video," Washington said.
Following the video posted to Facebook last week, the Fort Worth Police Department posted the following message on Twitter. In an email to NBC 5, Fort Worth police said they don't plan to comment on the video released Tuesday.
"Our Public Relations Office has been actively pursuing our social media as a way to promote our police department in a positive light.
We inform and educate our citizens and with many great strides, try to find ways to humanize our profession and stand out as one of the best police departments in the nation.
For the most part, we are succeeding at this.
For us to recognize and appreciate all of the good things we receive through social media, but to ignore all of the bad things would make us hypocrites.
We saw what you saw. We heard what you heard.
We have received your phone calls, your emails, your message, your tweets, your reviews, your absolute concern over what occurred and your demand for answers and action.
WE DO HEAR YOU!
In order to abide by state law, there is a process that we have to follow for the fairness of all the parties involved.
Once the investigation has concluded, we will provide you with the results.
Our social media community will be one of the first to know.
Until then, keep telling us what you think ... good or bad."