Grand Jury Clears Dallas Officers in Fatal Shooting of Mentally Ill Man Armed With a Screwdriver

Officers no billed in fatal shooting of man holding a screwdriver

A Dallas County grand jury has declined to indict two Dallas police officers who fatally shot 39-year-old Jason Harrison, a mentally ill man holding a screwdriver.

The grand jury no billed the officers during a hearing Thursday.

"We appreciate the grand jury's consideration of all the evidence in the matter. The City is currently defending the civil lawsuit. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those struggling with mental illness," said Chris Livingston, an attorney for both officers.

Harrison's family is disappointed and frustrated. Harrison's brother says the family hopes this case will initiate change in the way deadly officer-involved shootings are handled.

"We're not headed in the right direction for change – to try to taper off the activities these guys are doing and getting away with," said Sean Harrison. "This is not the way to correct it."

In March the attorney for Harrison's family released video of the June 2014 shooting to the media and said it raised questions about the use of force by Dallas police officers John Rodgers and Andrew Hutchins.

The video shows an officer knocking on the front door of a home in the 200 block of Glencairn Drive. Harrison's mother opens the door and calmly walks outside, inaudibly telling officers something then saying her son was schizophrenic and bipolar.

When Harrison appears in the doorway holding a screwdriver in his hand, Rodgers and Hutchins instruct him to drop the screwdriver. According to the officers, Harrison then made an aggressive or threatening move, reportedly lunging toward an officer, before they opened fire.

Harrison's mother Shirley spoke exclusively to NBC 5 and said she called 911 that day after her son stopped taking his medication and made violent threats.

“We maintain the footage shows him not stabbing, not thrusting, not lunging in a way that would jeopardize the lives of these officer,” said the family's attorney, Geoff Henley. “He never leaves the front porch and he’s gunned down.”

Attorney Chris Livingston, who represents the officers involved, said once the video is slowed it shows Jason Harrison move toward officers and his arm rotate down into a stabbing motion as the first shots are fired.

The family says a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in October will go forward.

"This is not the end, this is the beginning," Harrison said, "And, we will fight to get people in place in office that we need – we need people to address these issues and make the accountability be there so we can have a great city."

After the Dallas Police Department completed their investigation, the officers were placed back on duty as the case was handed over to the Dallas County district attorney for referral to the grand jury.

NBC 5's Jocelyn Lockwood, Johnny Archer and Frank Heinz contributed to this report.

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