A 53-year-old mentally ill man was shot by Dallas police officers earlier this week when he allegedly came at them with a knife, but surveillance video released later tells a different story.
Bobby Gerald Bennett’s own mother, Joyce Jackson, called police Monday about her son acting strangely with a knife outside her home after an argument. She said she was told by 911 dispatch officers trained to work with mentally ill people would be sent, according to WFAA-TV.
The police department’s official statement after the incident was that the situation “escalated, which led an officer to fire his weapon upon the individual.” Bennett, who was shot at four times, was taken to the hospital and was in stable condition.
The affidavit released to the media stated that Jackson said her son has paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, was not taking his medication and “had been drinking alcohol for some time,” WFAA reported.
Sgt. Warren Mitchell wrote in the affidavit that when officers arrived, Bennett said he wanted them to shoot him. Bennett was told to drop a weapon he supposedly had in his hand, ignored orders and “took several steps toward them with the knife raised in an aggressive manner.”
But surveillance footage and the witness account given by neighbor Maurice Bunch might suggest otherwise.
Footage shows that as police are approaching Bennett, his feet don’t move. According to Bunch, he saw the knife prior to the police arriving, but it was on the ground.
“I believe he may have had the knife in his hand [when police shot at him], I’m not 100 percent sure,” Bunch told WFAA. “I know when they came, I saw the knife sitting on the ground with a pouch of tobacco.”
“When the officers told him freeze, he complied,” Bunch also told the news station. “He did not move an inch, in suspended animation; he just stood there, you know? Bobby was conscious, he knew exactly what he was doing because I had been talking to him prior.”
Watch the footage below (Warning: Disturbing content)”
Police were made aware of the footage and took Bunch’s whole DVR system, but it was later returned with the video intact.
“When you’re with a mentally ill person, you don’t just start shooting,” Jackson told the local news station.
“Had I known this was going to happen, I would have never called police,” the mother told KXAS-TV.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown said in a statement to WFAA that a criminal investigation is being conducted. After that investigation is complete, an administrative investigation will begin, looking into the officer’s use of the firearm.
Officer Cardan Spencer, who fired the shots, is on administrative leave pending the investigation.
Watch WFAA’s report with the footage from the surveillance camera: