The trial for a fired Dallas police officer accused of shooting a woman 12 times during a stolen vehicle investigation will continue into Wednesday.
Christopher Hess, 42, is charged with aggravated assault by a public servant after he shot and killed 21-year old Genevive Dawes on Jan. 18, 2017 while responding to a call about a stolen car. A Dallas County jury will now decide if deadly force was justified in this case. Hess is pleading not guilty and, if convicted, faces up to 99 years or life in prison.
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Hess was expected to take the stand in his defense, but his defense team rested its case Tuesday morning. During the trial last week, his attorneys called witnesses to testify that Hess was justified in his use of force.
During closing arguments prosecutors told jurors to remember that it was Hess who was on trial, not Genevive Dawes.
“This man, right here, this one, is guilty of aggravated assault by a public servant," prosecutor Brian Mitchell said. "If it is not immediately necessary to use deadly force you don’t get the justification."
The defense countered, arguing Hess' decision to use deadly force was justified and likely prevented harm to others.
“Somebody was going to get injured," defense attorney Reed Prospere told the jury. "Should all the officers turn around and look at each other and say, 'Bad day for us, they just don’t want to comply, they just don’t want to listen to us I guess we better get in our cars and leave?'"
Friday, another officer who was at the scene when Hess opened fire testified that the car posed a "deadly threat" and that had he been in better position, he too would have fired into the van driven by Dawes.
“You would have shot if you were in a position to shoot?" Hess' defense attorney asked.
"Yes," Ofc. Christopher Alisch responded.
Hess' defense called multiple experts who testified that Dawes' van posed a deadly threat and use of force was justified. Prosecutors fired back during cross-examination as they attempted to highlight the slow-speed of the vehicle.
Last week, jurors watched more body camera video from one of the six officers who responded to that call on a stolen car in an East Dallas apartment complex parking lot in January 2017.
Police said Dawes and her common-law husband were sleeping inside the car when a 911 caller reported them. The car turned out to be stolen when the license plate number was searched by police prior to responding to the scene, according to investigators.
The body camera video shows officers making several commands with no response and then Dawes trying to move her car into a fence, eventually backing into one of the DPD vehicles. In the video -- after more commands and another attempt by Dawes to back up the vehicle -- Hess opened fire 12 times.
Dawes was killed. Her passenger survived.
If found guilty, Hess could face anywhere from 5 to 99 years or life in prison.