A former Dallas Police Department officer was found not guilty Thursday of charges related to a 2017 shooting in which he killed a woman at an Old East Dallas apartment complex.
After deliberating for two days, a Dallas County jury acquitted Christopher Hess, 42, of a single count of aggravated assault by a public servant.
Hess was one of six police officers who responded to a suspicious vehicle call at the complex on Jan. 18, 2017. When officers arrived, they found Dawes and her boyfriend, Virgilio Rosales, sleeping inside an SUV. Officers ordered Dawes and Rosales out of the SUV. Instead, Dawes tried to flee, backing the SUV toward the police cruisers that were blocking her escape path.
Hess' partner, Jason Kimpel, fired a single round into the SUV but missed. Hess fired 12 times, striking Dawes five times and killing her.
Much of the trial dealt with the central question of whether Hess reasonably feared for his or his fellow officers' safety. Another DPD officer on the scene, Erin Evans, testified that she didn't think the situation called for the use of deadly force.
But Jerry Staton, a retired Austin police officer called as an expert by the defense, said Hess' decision to fire his gun a dozen times was reasonable.
“You don't just shoot and hope one shot will work, or two or three,” Staton said. "You start putting rounds towards the target and when the car stopped, the officer stopped shooting. That's what he's trained to do."