Activists Say Public Officials are Paying Attention to Reform Requests

Activists acknowledge new meetings and proposals but say not enough action yet

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Dallas activists seeking police reform tell NBC 5 they’re getting new attention from public officials about complaints they’ve been raising for years.

They said social unrest and weeks of demonstrations have resulted in meetings and proposals, but not enough action yet.

"Public officials are trying to respond and that’s a welcome thing," said John Fullinwider with Mothers Against Police Brutality.

One example is the case of Tony Timpa. He died in 2016 after calling Dallas Police for help. The man with mental health issues had taken cocaine that day but his death was ruled a homicide. Court records said it was “sudden cardiac death due to the toxic effects of cocaine and physiological stress associated with physical restraint.”

It took lawyers three years to get police video of the encounter released.

Tuesday, a Federal Judge dismissed the Timpa family lawsuit against the officers on a legal technicality. Criminal charges against the officers were dismissed last year.

“I don't want to be stopped by those police officers and I doubt anybody else does either,” Fullinwider said. “The law is stacked in favor of police.”

In the wake of recent police brutality protests, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax released an 11-point reform plan in June, including a policy change to release video like Timpa’s in days, not years.

“It's important for us to do as much as we can, for many things that we may not have done in the past, as quickly as possible,” Broadnax said last month.

Members of Mothers Against Police Brutality recently met with Broadnax. They asked him to review a list of 20 deaths since 2003 at the hands of Dallas Police which they claim could have been avoided.

“We want them to be looked at for changes in policy and practice that might have prevented these things,” Fullenwider said.

MAPB also provided a 2016 list of 153 Dallas officers who were deemed unreliable at the time for testimony in court over past misconduct or untruthfulness.

“There may be officers who are on the force now who are not suited or suitable for patrolling the public anymore,” Fullenwider said.

Fullinwider is one of several activists invited to participate in new meetings with Broadnax and several other Dallas County City Managers, being hosted by County Administrator Darryl Martin and County Judge Clay Jenkins.

An online meeting of the working group was held Wednesday.

Reverend Michael Waters of Abundant Life African Methodist Church said extremely high childhood poverty in Dallas is one of several facts that make funding changes the activists seek urgent.

“Just about every heinous and harrowing statistic that you can imagine concerning America, we are nation leading in that regard,” Waters said.

Reverend Frederick Haynes of Friendship West Baptist Church is another participant meeting with the public officials.

“Because of the climate that we are in, fortunately, they have been forced to take a look in the mirror,” Haynes said. “We want a partnership. We want to reprioritize what we invest in.”

Timing of the meetings is crucial with cities preparing new budgets that take effect October 1.

“I think the city managers that we’re meeting with are really interested in new ideas and I’m cautiously optimistic that they’ll accept some new ideas,” Fullenwider said.

In addition to Broadnax, city managers from Irving, Mesquite, DeSoto, Lancaster and Balch Springs are participating, along with Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot.

A Dallas Police spokesman Wednesday said the 2016 list of untrusted officers is no longer accurate and there have been several policy changes over the years to address past deaths. Changes include forbidding the use of neck restraints and requiring officers to intervene if they witness misconduct.

A request to the District Attorney’s Office was under review Wednesday for an updated list of officers who are not considered trustworthy for court testimony.

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