By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
You needed to be there. Last week, moments after Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway lost his attempt to suppress an embarrassing police voice recording, he strode out into the courthouse corridor loaded for bear.
A large crowd of press had been waiting, meek as scolded third-graders in the principal's outer office. We were all gathered in a gaggle on the very mark he had instructed us to stand on.
The mayor marched up, lifted a hand in the air like a concert conductor and announced that the issue of his domestic dispute with his wife, State Representative Barbara Mallory Caraway, was as of that very moment officially closed, off limits and no longer open to media inquiry.
"I don't want to see any more cameras in my face," he told the large assemblage of cameras.
But, see. There you have it. That's not up to him. Never was. Never will be.
If you were in Dallas last week and conscious, you know what was on the recording—Mayor Caraway, sitting in an unmarked police car last January 2 answering detectives' questions about a row with his wife. The city released the recording March 22 after a Dallas judge turned down Caraway's request to keep it under wraps.
Most of you who listened to the recording—available on our news blog, Unfair Park—seemed to feel sorry for Caraway. If anything, he comes across in the recording as gallant—a loyal husband trying to do damage control for his wife, who he says was crazy that night.
Since the recording came out, she has spoken only to say she's not going to talk about it. I have known Mrs. Caraway for a long time. She's a bright, charming lady with tons of poise and perfect manners, never out of control in public. She probably won't talk.
The problem with her husband, the mayor, is that he did talk. Talk and talk and talk. And in all of that talking, he told a bunch of lies, tried to use his status as a city council member to compromise public officials and then, at the end of the day, threw them all under the bus.
Look. One reason I feel I have to write about it one more time (at least) is this: Before Judge Teresa Guerra Snelson ruled that the recording had to come out, I was one of the writers around town who said keeping it secret raised questions about the integrity of public officials, especially City Attorney Tom Perkins and Police Chief David Brown.
In Judge Snelson's court, the outline of the full story—what really happened at City Hall—came into view, not so much explicitly as between the lines. And this needs to be said before the story slips from view. They did their jobs. They did the right thing.
Brown, Perkins, City Manager Mary Suhm, First Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans, Deputy Chief Craig Miller, Detectives John Davison and James Gallagher who did the taped interview, and...can I say it?...yes, yes, Jim, you must say it...you can do this...force it out now...breathe deeply...even former Mayor Tom Leppert stood up and did the right thing in spite of Caraway's attempts to exploit and abuse the system.
Wow, I made myself say something good about Tom Leppert. I think I should get a sticker.
This is what you have to know about Caraway. If you had been in the courtroom, you would have seen it plain and simple. He does not know what's right. He just does not get it.
Caraway told the court he called Chief Brown during the January 2 incident and told him his wife had become violent. He said in court he had called Brown not as police chief but as a friend.
"It was nowhere close to calling 911," he said. "I called the chief, because I called a friend. It was just in an advisory capacity. I didn't need help." He said he instructed the chief not to send officers.
And here we go. They may be friends. I have no idea. But the chief is a cop. Cops get shot on domestic disturbance calls. The Dallas Police Department has a carefully drawn policy on response to domestic disturbances based on the content of the 911 calls.
And then there's all the rest. Last June Chief Brown's son shot and killed a police officer before being shot and killed himself following a domestic disturbance call to suburban Lancaster police. Later the chief was accused—and cleared—of abusing his authority because Dallas officers directed traffic at his son's funeral.
We can speculate about why Caraway called Brown. Caraway could have been trying to lay down a record without creating an official report discoverable by the press. Maybe he was trying to head off any police action in case a neighbor called.
I asked him in the corridor at the trial why he called the chief that night. His answer, like a lot of what the mayor says when he's excited, was tough to figure.
"Who would Leppert have called?" he said. "Who would Perot call? Give me a break." He called his defeat in court "another win for the high-dollar people."