North Texas Man Wrongfully Identified as July 7 Shooting Suspect Files Lawsuit Against Dallas Police

In the immediate aftermath of the July 7 shootings in Downtown Dallas, he was wrongfully identified as a suspect. Now, two years later, a North Texas man is suing the Dallas Police Department, claiming his civil rights were violated that night.

The suit was filed Monday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, located in Dallas.

On the night of July 7, 2016, Mark Hughes and his brother Cory came to Downtown Dallas to march in protest of police brutality. As the peaceful demonstration was wrapping up, a flurry of gunfire rang out through the streets.

A gunman began targeting the police officers who were Downtown to help keep the peace during the march. Five officers were killed and several others were injured.

Hughes, who is licensed to carry, came to the protest with his long rifle hanging over his shoulder, hoping to make a statement about African-Americans and Second Amendment rights.

When his brother, Cory, learned that officers had been shot, he begged Hughes to hand over his rifle to local law enforcement so no one would mistakenly think he was the shooter.

Hughes eventually agreed, found a police officer, and gave him the rifle. The officer then handed him a business card and a receipt.

Moments later, he saw his face on every TV screen and blasted over every social media platform.

The Dallas Police Department released a picture of Hughes carrying his rifle and identified him as a suspect in the shooting.

Upon learning police were looking for him, Hughes turned himself in. His brother Cory was also detained for questioning.

"Bringing me in to question me, I have no problem with that," Hughes said in a 2017 interview with NBC 5. "But releasing me as the suspect before you even spoke to me, before you had any evidence -- that was reckless and dangerous."

Police eventually determined neither he nor his brother were involved with the shooting and let them go.

But Hughes says their mistake continues to haunt him. 

"Still to this day, people come up and say I know you -- you're the shooter," said Hughes.

NBC 5 spoke to Hughes' attorney, Lee Merritt, over the phone Monday.

He says his client never intended to file a lawsuit against the police department - and that he spent the better part of the last two years trying to arrange meetings with city and police leadership to have constructive conversations about what happened to him that night, as well as the larger topic of police-minority relations.

Merritt says the city has continued to rebuff Hughes' requests - and with the statute of limitations set to expire for his case, he finally agreed to file a lawsuit.

The suit alleges that police violated his Miranda rights when he was detained, noting that he was denied access to a lawyer while in custody.

It also claims police were negligent in detaining him and his brother, when they posed no threat.

"The actions of the [Dallas Police Department] in arresting plaintiffs without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, in detaining and interogating and subjecting plaintiffs to irrelevant, hostile, and harassing questioning was done intentionally, wantonly, willfully, maliciously, wrongfully, and with such extreme and outrageous character as to cause the severe emotional distress suffered by plaintiffs," the suit reads. 

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and a statement from the court informing the City of Dallas and Dallas Police Department that they cannot violate the rights of citizens during times of crisis.

Both the City of Dallas and the Dallas Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing a long-standing policy that they not publicly comment on pending litigation.

The Dallas Police Department has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit via court filings.

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