Dallas Police Release Synopsis of James Harper Shooting

The Dallas Police Department released a synopsis of their investigation into the shooting death of James Harper by Officer Brian Rowden.

The complete synopsis is included below:

"On July 24, 2012 at about 4:57 PM., Dallas Police 911 received a call from an anonymous caller reporting that four Latin Males armed with weapons were dragging a black male whose hands were tied up into a residence located at 5316 Bourquin St. Responding Officers Rowden, Begin and Bromely arrived at the scene and based on the comments of the call, they surrounded the residence and attempted to make contact with the occupants of the residence. The officers were able to hear yelling and a lot of movement coming from within the residence. It’s then the officers made their presence known by shouting “Police, Police”.  The officers continued to hear the people inside and at one point they heard an occupant shout an expletive towards them.  They also heard something that sounded like someone was struggling.  A decision was made to push the A/C Unit that was located on the driveway side into the residence from the outside to get a better look at what was going on, considering that the officers were possibly dealing with a kidnapping victim.Officer Rowden observed four black males running through the residence going towards the back.  At the same time, he observed a handgun on the table and drugs that were in plain view. Officer Rowden stated that one of the black males picked up the gun as he fled to the back but, was unsure which suspect picked up the gun. He informed the other officers of the actions of the suspect.  They then heard glass break at the rear of the house. As they ran to the back they observed four black males jumping out of the rear of the residence.  All four jumped a 4 foot chain link fence and continued to flee on foot.  Officers Begin and Rowden pursued the four suspects to the rear of the residence as they attempted to jump over a second fence. Officer Begin was able to apprehend one of the four who was identified as Arthur Dixon. Dixon surrendered to Officer Begin without a struggle and was handcuffed, while Officer Rowden pursued the other suspects.

Officer Rowden was able to grab the second suspect, later identified as James Harper, as he was in the process of jumping the fence, but lost his grip when Harper kicked Officer Rowden in the chest.  This was the first of three physical encounters that Officer Rowden and Harper had throughout this incident.  Officer Rowden continued to pursue Harper and was able to catch up to him in the horse corral at the residence located at 3808 Mural St.  As Officer Rowden pursued Harper, he observed Harper grabbing at something in his front pants pocket and was able to corner him at the end of the horse stables.  Officer Rowden stated he gave loud verbal commands to Harper directing him to show his hands and stop running. Harper, refusing to surrender, turned towards the officer and approached him while he still had his hands in his front pocket.  This is when Harper and Officer Rowden became involved in the second physical confrontation. During the course of this confrontation Officer Rowden holstered his weapon and attempted to straddle and handcuff Harper.  Because of his strength, Harper was able to throw Officer Rowden off as he continued to resist and fight with him.

During the course of struggling with Harper, Officer Rowden lost his handcuffs, which fell to the ground.  Harper continued to resist and flee with Officer Rowden behind him. Officer Rowden drew his pistol and continued to give Harper loud commands to show his hands, because Harper continued to grab at something that was in his right front pants pocket.  Officer Rowden was able to grab Harper once again and was drug to the corner of the corral as he was holding on to Harper.  Harper lost his balance and fell to the ground landing in a sitting position facing Officer Rowden.  Officer Rowden then observed Harper reach into the same pants pocket.  Officer Rowden reached over and grabbed Harper’s hand in an attempt to keep him from pulling the object out.  Harper screamed an expletive at the officer.  Officer Rowden, feeling fatigued and losing control of Harper felt a hard object in the same place where Harper had placed his hand. Believing that the object was a weapon, Officer Rowden then disengaged, and as he was pulling back away from Harper, fearing for his life, Officer Rowden fired three gun shots, striking Harper in the chest and torso.

After securing a search warrant for the residence at 5316 Bourquin, detectives requested the assistance of the Narcotics Division to search and recover any narcotics that could be found.  Narcotics detective found the following:

  • 19.0 grams of cocaine found on the drive way of the house next door.

The following was found inside the house at 5316 Bourquin.

  • 171 grams of Marijuana
  • 24.1 grams of Xanex
  • 52.1 grams of Hydrocodone
  • 30.1 grams of Cocaine
  • 16.1 grams PCP - 38 Vials
  • 9 Cell phones
  • 4 Digital scales
  • A Ledger
  • 1 9mm Lugar semi auto
  • 1 12gauge Mossberg Shotgun   

 As the investigation unfolded detectives were able to identify the two other suspects that had fled on foot to avoid apprehension.  Detectives also began to follow up on the anonymous caller of the false kidnapping 911 call.  Utilizing the cell number that was recorded on the 911 system, detectives identified the carrier of the number and through cell phone records and other documents; the caller was identified as being a person by the nick name Hotboy.  Detectives also learned the number that was logged on the 911 system was changed two hours after the shooting and in-store video was obtained of the person who was believed to be Hotboy.

On July 26th, detectives were able to direct members of the Gang Unit to the location of one of the remaining two suspects who was identified as Joseph Fullwood, aka Black.  Detectives learned of his whereabouts through interviews and an anonymous tip.  The fourth suspect was also identified, but remains at large at this time. The Gang Unit is aware of the identity of this suspect and is actively pursuing him.

On July 28th, detectives received information pertaining to Hotboy via an anonymous tip.  This information was followed up and they were able to locate witnesses that knew Hotboy by his true name of Keenan Johnson, as well as provide information about his involvement. That afternoon, detectives received a call from a person who identified himself as Keenan Johnson and confirmed that his nickname was Hotboy. Detectives spoke to Keenan over the phone and advised him of the investigation.  Keenan Johnson came to Police Headquarters and was interviewed.  Through the course of the interview, detectives were able to establish and confirm that a physical confrontation between James Harper and Keenan Johnson had taken place prior to the false kidnapping call being made. Detectives observed that Keenan Johnson had redness and hemorrhaging to both of his eyes as a result of being choked by Harper and another unidentified individual.  He also sustained a large abrasion to his buttocks as a result of them dragging him out of the house where the assault took place.

Detectives also confirmed through DPD Gang records that Keenan Johnson is a member of the Criminal Street Gang 415 BLOODS of East Dallas Posse. Detectives also learned though interviews and James Harper’s tattoos that he and Arthur Dixon were both members of 357 Dixon CRIPS.  Detectives could not confirm through Gang database if Fullwood is associated with Harper’s group."

New Policies and Directives for DPD

Additionally, the department released new policies and strategic directives in relation to the shooting case. Those directives are included below:

1. Formalize a process of concurrent investigative review with the FBI Civil Rights Office of all officer involved shootings

This step will help reassure the public that the Dallas Police Department is conducting a detailed and comprehensive investigation and that the findings are based upon facts uncovered by the investigation.  The Police Department has requested the FBI to conduct this type of review on several occasions, the most recent of which is the James Harper shooting.

2. Implement a more comprehensive Response to Resistance reporting system

A Response to Resistance report details the actions a suspect took against an officer and the steps an officer was required to take to overcome this resistance.  A comprehensive reporting system will allow for a more detailed analysis of incidents involving violence against officers and their response.  Information gained will assist in developing and refining tactics, training and policy.  The report will also provide public transparency regarding the amount of force officers take in the performance of their duties.

3. Develop a foot pursuit policy

A formalized foot pursuit policy enhances officer safety by providing officers with a foundation on which to make decisions during these high risk activities with the intent of reducing hazardous consequences and preventing, when possible, the escalation of enforcement action into lethal force confrontations.

4. Re-implement the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) Review Team

The DVR Team had been temporarily inactive while a panel of Police Deputy Chiefs reviewed the proper role for the Team.  The dash cam video reviews conducted by this team can serve as a training tool for the Department while building public confidence that the Department proactively examines officer performance to ensure compliance with departmental and public expectations.

5. Implement a mandatory electronic control weapon (Taser) training policy for all officers

Currently, all officers that are trained with an electronic control weapon are required to carry one if available. 

6. Enhance the Department’s consensual search policy to include the requirement for a written and/or recorded consent

Implementing this step will create greater public confidence in the consensual searches performed by Dallas Police Officers, protect officers against false allegations of illegal search and bolster court cases where the search is critical to proving the charge. 

7. Research best practices that have come from critical incidents or institutional failures in public safety from around the nation

In recent years several major city police departments have been placed under consent decrees.  The Dallas Police Department proposes to research the positive practices and policies that have been developed as a response to these failures as a way to improve our own training, policy, officer safety and service delivery.  Included in this step will be a review of the recommendations stemming from the 1988 Congressional Hearings that occurred in Dallas.

8. Assemble a special Community Policing Strategic Team of officers for the Dixon Circle community
This step will create a special team of officers responsible for addressing chronic crime and underlying quality of life issues present in the Dixon Avenue community while opening sustainable communications with this neighborhood to build trust between the residents and the Police Department.  The Police Athletic League will play a vital role in this team effort to provide constructive alternatives for youth in the area.  If successful, this concept will serve as a model for effecting positive change in other communities with similar crime and quality of life issues. "

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