The Dallas County District Attorney’s office has dropped charges against Kyle Vess, whom a fire department paramedic kicked repeatedly on video in August 2019.
Vess, who suffers from mental illness, was charged with assaulting a public servant after the incident. Video appears to show him swing at Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedic Brad Cox. Vess missed, and Cox, who is trained mixed martial artist, kicked him some nine times during one altercation, and then again kicked and punched him.
A week after the Observer released video showing Vess kicked repeatedly that day, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot met with George Milner III, Vess' criminal defense attorney. Creuzot told Milner on Monday morning that his office was dropping the charges against his client.
"Kyle Vess and his parents are grateful these charges have finally been dropped," Milner said by email. "This has been a long journey, but Kyle received some measure of justice today. The Dallas District Attorney dismissed the case in the interest of justice. We greatly appreciate Judge Creuzot's decision to do so."
Milner said though Vess was portrayed as the assailant for more than two years, he is a victim. Creuzot discussed the decision to dismiss the case with Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, who agreed with the decision. But Milner said Vess' family wants DPD to go a step further.
"Now, given the overwhelming evidence against Brad Cox, the Vess family calls upon Chief Garcia to arrest and charge Cox with Aggravated Assault or, at a minimum, Assault Upon a Disabled Person," Milner wrote. "The victim is, and has been, Kyle Vess. It is time for him to be treated that way. And, it is time for Brad Cox to be treated as he should be, as a criminal Defendant! Only then will Kyle Vess receive the full measure of justice he deserves."
Creuzot said in an emailed statement: "This morning, a dismissal was submitted to the court on the assault case. Also, a motion to withdraw the alleged violation of community supervision was submitted to the court. Both were signed. I understand that both documents should be available on the public portal. There is no further comment on either of the cases."
He added, "As to Fireman Cox, other than what was previously given to you and other members of your profession, there will be no further comment."
Surveillance footage from a nearby business shows Cox kicking Vess repeatedly on the ground before police arrive on scene. Then, after Dallas Police Department and Dallas County Sheriff’s Department officers arrive, body camera footage shows Cox kick and then punch Vess in the head.
The surveillance video shows an initial confrontation between Vess and Cox. Vess swings at Cox and misses. He then tries to throw something at Cox, but misses again. Eventually, Vess ends up on the ground where Cox kicks him repeatedly.
When police get there, Cox is captured on body camera video hovering over Vess on the ground. When Vess sits up and turns toward Cox, the paramedic kicks him in the face. Vess stands up to confront Cox, who appears to punch Vess in the face twice before police zap him with a Taser.
Vess is loaded into an ambulance that would take him to Parkland Memorial Hospital with a swollen ankle and fractures in his face. At the hospital, he told DPD officers he was kicked in the face while on the ground.
One of the police officers later told her sergeant about the incident, which sparked a public integrity investigation into Cox. Vess' mother later asked the DA's office to investigate the paramedic's actions.
But the public integrity investigation eventually cleared Cox. The DA didn't charge Cox. Creuzot said he may have handled the case differently if he'd seen the surveillance footage, but it wasn't available to him at the time because his office didn't follow up with DPD. And for over two years, Vess would be stuck with the charges from that day.
After the Vess family filed suit earlier this year, body camera footage from the second incident was released, and Cox was placed on paid administrative leave. As of Oct. 25, Cox was still on leave.
Vess’ family is suing Cox for detaining Kyle and allegedly using excessive force. Cox left Vess with a broken sinus and orbital socket, as well as cracks in his teeth, according to the lawsuit. The complaint says the injuries he sustained compounded his mental illness and the effects of a prior traumatic head injury.
The suit also names the city of Dallas for not providing proper training in dealing with homeless and mentally ill residents. The city also should have fired Cox a long time ago over previous allegations of misconduct, the lawsuit alleges.
Attorney Gerald Bright is representing Cox in the suit. His office said it isn't providing comments because of ongoing ligation.