Dallas Police Ambush Anniversary Memorial Tuesday

Ambush came after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on July 7, 2016

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Relatives of five slain Dallas officers will gather for a private memorial service Tuesday at Dallas Police Headquarters to recall the July 7, 2016 ambush.

They were gunned down at the end of a Black Lives Matter rally by a lone gunman who was waiting at the end of the protest route.

Police want officers Brent Thompson, Michael Krohl, Michael Smith, Patrick Zamarripa and Lorne Ahrens remembered.

Demonstrators want the cause of their march remembered.

It was a peaceful rally, according to Friendship West Baptist Church Pastor Frederick Haynes whose daughter attended the rally. By phone, she told her father that officers seemed to be in partnership with the protestors.

“It was a wonderful experience and then without warning, she said, ‘Daddy, shooting is going on,’ and she starts running,” Haynes said.

Officers stood their ground even as they came under fire from suspect Micah Xavier Johnson. 

Black Police Association of Greater Dallas President Terrance Hopkins was also at the protest that evening after helping to plan protection for the march.

“And now we went into a defense mode for the citizens that were actually protesting,” he said.

The five officers were killed and seven more wounded before police were able to kill the suspect with a robot bomb. 

“It's a deep wound and it's going to take a very long time if ever to heal,” said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata.

Authorities later learned the gunman had a history of mental problems and a grudge against police.

“The shooter had nothing to do with the march,” Haynes said.

Soon after the incident, Haynes held a press conference at this church with protestors to condemn the deadly ambush but push to keep the reasons for the protest alive.

“Those same reasons exist today,” Haynes said. “It’s not enough to tweak the system. Now is the time to transform the system.”

The police union leaders agree there is a need for reform in training and accountability.

“Nobody wants to get rid of the bad cops more than the good ones. And we’re doing a good job of trying to do that,” Mata said.

But the union leaders also say police have constitutional rights that must be protected too and that officers are getting a bad rap in the current protest environment.

“When we do have the officer that runs astray, well now the community starts painting us all with the same brush and that’s just not true,” Hopkins said.

Haynes said police looking in the mirror do not get a full picture of the problems the current system has caused for underserved communities. He said talk of “defunding police” amounts to a new approach to public spending that solves poverty and social issues instead of sending police to answer calls.

“There is a war that has been declared on our community by some who have the privilege and responsibility of wearing that badge,” Haynes said. “We want a partnership. We want to reprioritize what we invest in.”

Haynes is participating in a new group led by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins to examine all options of police reform and government services.

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