Dallas’ new police oversight board took its first major action Tuesday night, voting to hire an independent investigator to look into the death of a woman in DPD custody.
The community police oversight board’s decision was swift and unanimous.
The city is working on hiring a monitor who will oversee investigations like this one by the end of the year.
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Still, some on the board said they didn’t want to wait until then to begin looking into the case of Diamond Ross.
According to Dallas police, responding officers failed to get Ross medical treatment, but neither officer involved faced criminal charges due to her death being ruled an "accidental drug overdose."
A recently released video shows Ross asking for water and telling responding officers she can't breathe. While being processed at the city of Dallas Detention Center, she appears unresponsive and is dragged in by police officers holding only her arms. The video then shows the officers dropping her in a wheelchair as her head violently snaps back.
The board’s decision to begin with Ross’ case has been praised, though it still faces an uphill battle in building trust with the community.
More than a dozen community members spoke at Tuesday’s meeting. While some simply shared their own cases for review, most raised questions and concerns about how the board will operate, how it will maintain transparency and accountability with the public and whether all serving on the board believe in it.
"We are messing up already. Compromising character and integrity, which should be the foundation of this very board for everyone. Again, if you don't want to be here and you don't intend to do right, leave,” Pamela Grayson said.
Board chair Jesuorobo Enobakhare responded to the concerns, saying it’s their responsibility as members to educate the public on their purpose and function.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time, but once we have the staff up and running, we’ll really start getting the community educated on who this board is and what we can do and why we’re here,” Enobakhare said.
When asked about two fellow board members who weren’t named in the meeting, but identified as having said they don’t want to serve, Enobakhare said he’ll give everyone a chance.