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Neighbor's video footage contradicts Dallas police officer who shot mentally ill man

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By The Associated Press
Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 7:21 p.m.
 

DALLAS — Surveillance video showing a Dallas police officer shooting a mentally ill man standing still about 20 feet away contradicts the assertion of an officer that the man threatened his safety by lunging at him with a knife.

Bobby Gerald Bennett remains hospitalized from being shot in the stomach Monday.

The officer who shot him, Cardan Spencer, is on indefinite administrative leave pending a criminal investigation since a neighbor released surveillance video that captured the incident.

Bennett was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a public servant, but police Chief David Brown announced Friday that the charge would be dropped.

Bennett's mother, Joyce Jackson, said on Friday that her 52-year-old son has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and that he was off his medication at the time of the shooting. Jackson said she was arguing with Bennett when she called the police. She was told that officers who have been trained in dealing with the mentally ill would arrive to assist her.

The officers arrived outside her southeast Dallas home around noon to find Bennett sitting on a chair in the street and holding a knife. At this point, accounts of the incident differ.

Spencer wrote in a police report that Bennett refused to drop the knife and moved toward him and another officer “in a threatening manner.” Spencer says that's when he fired at Bennett four times from about 20 feet away, wounding him.

The video tells a different story. Although the police report says Bennett “lunged” at the officers with a knife, in the video he stands up from the chair but then doesn't appear to move at all until the gun is fired and he crumples to the ground.

The surveillance video does not include audio, and Spencer wrote in his report that Bennett yelled at them, “You all are gonna need more officers than this!” But it doesn't show that the incident “escalated, which led an officer to fire his weapon upon the individual,” as police spokesman Warren Mitchell said in a statement a few hours after the shooting.

Brown said in a statement on Thursday night that Spencer has been placed on indefinite administrative leave pending a “thorough criminal investigation.”

Jackson said she and her son had been arguing about whether he could take an ink drawing of a rose he had done for his late grandmother, she said. The drawing is framed on the wall of her home.

The argument soon escalated, Jackson said.

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