Texas DPS investigating officer-involved shooting that left McKinney man dead

NBC Universal, Inc.

Two McKinney Police officers are on standard leave as the Texas Rangers investigate Monday night’s police shooting that claimed the life of a 37-year-old man.

Police were called to an apartment complex in the 700 block of Bumpass Street for a man making suicidal threats and harming himself with a knife, according to MPD.

Cell phone video captured the final moments of the deadly encounter. Police and family identified the man as Sidney Dotson. Dotson’s sister spoke with NBC 5 about her feelings of both grief and guilt.

“I’m very broken,” said Marlo Griffin.

“I’m very confused because I called for help for him. I called for help. I told dispatch 911 that he was a mental patient. He was having a mental breakdown and if she could send some help. I even went to the gate and met the police officers and told them that he had a mental problem and he was having a mental breakdown, that he just needed help.”

Griffin said her 37-year-old brother had been struggling to readjust after being released from prison two weeks ago. He had no luck finding work and stopped taking his medications for bipolar schizophrenia.

The sister had been struggling to find space for Dotson at a halfway house to help him find work. Griffin was elated to get a call last Friday from a group in Garland that would accept her brother beginning Tuesday.

“I tried everything I could to get him some help, but it was a time process,” she said. “But, it still have them no right, no right to come out here and shoot him seven, eight times.”

Griffin and neighbors watched as Dotson paced back and forth in front of McKinney police officers, armed with a knife and bleeding from self-inflicted cuts to his neck and arm.

Officers are heard on a shaky cell phone video shared with NBC 5 commanding him to get on the ground.

Dotson refuses, yelling back, warning them not to mess with him. Seconds later, a single shot is heard on the video, startling Dotson.

NBC 5 asked MPD to clarify whether the single shot was a gunshot and whether it was discharged by accident.

The department responded that the officer fired a ‘non-lethal round’ but could not specify what kind, given the ongoing investigation by the Texas Rangers.

After the initial shot, Dotson, knife in hand, begins to run toward the police seemingly. Two officers opened fire, according to MPD.

Police said officers quickly began life-saving measures, but the 37-year-old died at the hospital.

NBC 5 asked Tarleton criminologist Alex Del Carmen to view the cell phone video and provide insight. The video, he stresses, does not show the entire encounter.

Del Carmen believes the fatal shooting was justified, given the limited and shaky video.

“The real question is: Did that warning shot or non-lethal shot really precipitate this situation in terms of best practices,” he argues. “I think that precipitated for the suspect to come at the officers. Now, no one knows if the absence of that shot, if the individual would have come to them anyway.”

Asked why officers are compelled to open fire on a suspect with a knife, Del Carmen says ‘a knife is a deadly weapon.’

“The idea that you can shoot someone in the legs or use a baton or maybe hand-to-hand combat, all of these things are great in Hollywood,” he said. “But in real life, when somebody’s coming at you with a knife, a knife can kill you.”

Another concern for some in the community is whether the presence of officers, who reportedly know the subject is suffering a mental crisis, would potentially cause greater harm.

Del Carmen says officers nationwide have undergone crisis intervention training over the past two years. The training focuses on de-escalating encounters with people suffering from mental illness.

Many departments also have trained mental health professionals who are called to the scenes in hopes of de-escalating such situations.

It is unclear if the officers involved received crisis intervention training and whether MPD has trained mental health professionals on staff.

“Once the officer sees that person coming at him, there’s really no other option except to use lethal force, unless, the officer is willing to perhaps be injured in the process, risk the lives of other officers or bystanders, and tell the story from a hospital bed if at all,” said Del Carmen.

However, based on his initial review of the only video available right now, this expert on police policy and procedure concedes the initial non-lethal round could come into question in the investigation.

“Perhaps if that warning shot had not been fired, maybe the suspect wouldn’t have read that: they’re shooting at me, and therefore, I have to go and kill them first,” he said. “So one could always argue that.”

The family still contends the shooting was not justified, arguing other videos, not seen by NBC 5, show Dotson dropped the knife and did not actually charge at officers.

They are demanding transparency in the investigation and accountability.

“I want to know why did the police kill my brother. Why,” cried Griffin. “Why didn’t they try and come get him some help instead of taking his life?”

The president of the Collin County branch of the NAACP released a statement to NBC 5, offering condolences to Dotson’s family.

‘I am exhausted seeing the tragic outcomes of police engagements in mental health emergencies. It is incomprehensible how a call for help turned into a fatal encounter,’ said chapter president June Jenkins.

Jenkins demands ‘a more effective approach to handling such sensitive situations.’

‘As the branch awaits further details, they are committed to reviewing the bodycam footage to ensure a transparent and just evaluation of the incident. An official statement will be issued in due course as we continue to advocate for safety, understanding, and justice in our community,’ added Jenkins.

Contact Us