Dallas Cop Found Not Guilty of Homicide After Killing Bicyclist With Police Car

A Dallas County jury found former Dallas Police Department officer Bryan Burgess not guilty Friday afternoon of criminally negligent homicide in death of Fred Bradford Jr. In 2013 Burgess killed cyclist Bradford with his police car after a brief chase in South Dallas.

Burgess and his partner, Michael Puckett, spotted Bradford as they patrolled Martin Luther King Boulevard on the night of April 21. They approached him after they "observed suspicious activity" and gave chase when Bradford rode away from the squad car on his bike.

While Burgess pursued Bradford in a squad car, Puckett got out and chased Bradford on foot. During the chase, Bradford turned into a grassy area on the east side of the 3000 block of Julius Schepps service road. As he turned into the grassy area, Bradford slowed down and his feet slipped off his bike's pedals. Burgess, who'd followed Bradford into the grassy area, hit the brakes but couldn't stop in time.  

After killing Bradford, Burgess moved the squad car. He and Puckett told paramedics that Bradford was hit by another car, not their squad car, and that they'd moved Bradford into the grass so he wouldn't be hit again. Burgess also told paramedics and investigators that he'd move his squad car into the grass to make room for the ambulance.

On August 20 2013, former police Chief David Brown fired both officers for recklessly endangering Bradford's life and then covering it up. Police arrested and charged Burgess the next day. The city paid the Bradford family more than a million dollars to settle a lawsuit over the incident.

During Burgess' trial, prosecutors argued that the ex-cop had no excuse for chasing Bradford, whether he suspected him of being part of a drug deal or not. Bradford had no drugs or cash on him when he died.

"There is no reason why you have to pursue someone so closely on a bicycle," prosecutor Jason Hermus said during closing arguments, according to reporters in the courtroom. "He turns a blind corner indifferent to what was on the other side."

Robert L. Rogers, Burgess' defense attorney told jurors his client was protected the neighborhood he patrolled. Bradford broke the law when he went out on his bike without a helmet or lights at night, a violation of Dallas city ordinances, Rogers said. When the collision happened, he said, Burgess was only going 11 mph, Rogers said, and it wasn't Burgess fault he hit Bradford.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young