There was a strong Dallas reaction Friday to the Minneapolis death of suspect George Floyd from a police officer’s knee restraint.
Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with Third-Degree-Murder and Manslaughter.
Suspects have died in North Texas, too at the hands of officers who’ve been jailed for the killings.
But there was also some encouragement in North Texas Friday about measures taken to avoid unjust police brutality.
In February, Dallas welcomed Tonya McClary, newly hired from New Orleans, to be the Dallas Police Monitor. McClary will oversee independent investigations of Dallas Police policy and alleged misconduct for a Community Police Oversight Board that received new power last year after years of debate.
But the board has held no meetings during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Absolutely, it is important that the Oversight Board be meeting at this moment,” said activist Sara Mokuria, a co-founder of the group Mothers Against Police Brutality.
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Mokuria is also active with a group that calls itself ‘Our City, Our Future.’ It encourages reliance on other improvements to reduce crime in underserved neighborhoods instead of police.
“There are practices that happen in police departments that are never quote, unquote, part of the training, but part of the culture,” Mokuria said. “Perhaps training is an issue, but more importantly, the lack of accountability.”
Three other Minneapolis Police Officers were fired along with Officer Derek Chauvin. Video from the scene Monday showed that suspect George Floyd was already handcuffed before being held to the ground by Chauvin with a neck restraint that eventually killed Floyd. The other officers did nothing as Chauvin held the man down.
“What is perhaps more troubling is the fact that one officer physically engaged in this action but the others simply watched, collaborated and did not do anything about it,” said Alex Del Carmen, a Tarleton State University Criminal Justice Expert.
Del Carmen said there is no police agency that trains officers to handle suspects the way the Minneapolis officer did.
“And this particular officer had over 10 instances where internal affairs was involved in his career, and they seemed to have allowed for this to escalate to the level that it did,” he said.
Del Carmen is involved with a review of Fort Worth Police after the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson in her own home by a Fort Worth officer last year.
“As it relates to the North Texas area I would say we are striving, we are working really hard, to prevent these cases from taking place,” Del Carmen said. “Are we where we need to be? Probably not. I think we are heading that way.”
Terrance Hopkins, President of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas, said Dallas officers receive strict training on the use of force.
“We're allowed to use the force that's necessary to effect the arrest, but just as soon as that arrest is over, that person is handcuffed, that force has to cease,” the union leader said. “I think our training is right up there at the top of the country.”
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall condemned the Minneapolis officers’ conduct and the decision to fire them immediately after the incident.
Hall repeated her position Thursday at a press conference on a crime-fighting plan.
“We all condemn their actions. It is inexcusable. We acknowledge it and we make sure that we in our own agencies have the right training,” Hall said.
Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax announced Friday that the Dallas Community Police Oversight Board and other city advisory boards, will resume meetings the week of June 8 using video conferencing.