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Why Some Dallas Cops Say They Are Afraid to Use Deadly Force

"I think you're going to see officers get hurt, crime go up, and you're going to see citizens get hurt."

Since the release of a dashcam video showing a Dallas police officer shooting an unarmed teenage carjacking suspect — for which the officer was fired and has been sued by the shooting victim — other officers on the force are scared they could be next.

Ron Pinkston, Dallas Police Association president, gave city leaders hundreds of letters penned by officers Tuesday, reported KXAS-TV in Dallas, adding that many indicate cops are worried about losing their jobs if they're put in a similar position.

One officer, a father, wrote that he typically thinks about his children when responding to calls, but now he's just scared about the repercussions that using deadly force might bring him.

The Dec. 9 shooting at issue came about after two officers pursued carjacking suspects in another vehicle; the officer says she shot the victim after he failed to comply with orders to show her his hands, leading to concern he was going for a weapon.

"The officer did her job, she doesn't want to use deadly force but she has to, because she was surprised by suspect in the passenger side of the car," Pinkston said of Senior Cpl. Amy Wilburn.

An internal affairs investigation found Wilburn, 48, violated the department's deadly use of force policy for shooting 19-year-old Kelvion Walker "without fear or justification." Chief David Brown fired Wilburn on Dec. 30, following the internal investigation, and said he intends to revamp the use-of-force policy and change training.

All of which concerned Pinkston and other officers, who say cops should be allowed to use force when their lives are threatened. And if they're hampered by policy overhauls, Pinkston told KXAS that "I think you're going to see officers get hurt, crime go up, and you're going to see citizens get hurt."

The five-minute dashcam video from Wilburn's squad car was posted to YouTube and shows police chasing a car until it slows down enough for the driver to hop and out and run. Walker, the shooting victim, was the passenger in the car.

As the car continues to roll, police investigators said Wilburn rushed to the car with her gun holstered, but then drew her gun and fired, shooting and wounding Walker.

Here's the full dashcam video:

Wilburn's attorney Robert Rogers defended his client's actions, saying she shot after Walker failed to comply with an order to show one of his hands, although an independent witness told investigators Walker had his hands up when he was shot, the Dallas Morning News reported.

"She's reacting to a moving car heading toward a building, so in the short term she's thinking, 'There's no one in the car and I want to stop this car from hitting this building,'" he said. "She got to the car and clearly is surprised that there was someone in the car. This is a suspect in a vehicle that's tied to some violent carjackings."

Meanwhile Walker, who was never charged in the carjacking, was released from the hospital and has filed a lawsuit against Wilburn, claiming he had his hands in the air and was shot within seconds of the officer encountering him.

"I remember her walking past the car and I had my hands up and then she looked at me and I looked at her and she just shot,"  Walker said in the lawsuit. "I just remember yelling, 'What you shoot me for?'"

"And then after that she was like, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I apologize. I didn't try to,'" Walker said.

A grand jury will review the case, the Morning News reported, which is typical in officer-involved shootings.

Featured image via KXAS-TV.

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