Dallas Police Officer Gets 2 Years of Probation for 2013 Shooting of Mentally Ill Man

A Dallas police officer fired for shooting a mentally ill man during a 2013 call will serve two years of probation after reaching a plea agreement.

Cardan Spencer shot Bobby Bennett on Oct. 14, 2013, after Bennett's mother called 911 to ask that police go to her home in Rylie to help with her son, who she said was acting erratically. When Spencer and another officer got to the man's home, Bennett, who was holding a knife, stood up from a chair he was sitting in. After a brief pause, Spencer shot Bennett in the stomach. Bennett had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and had been off his medication for several months, his mother, Joyce Jackson, said at the time of the shooting.

Spencer said Bennett raised his knife in a threatening manner and took a step toward the police officers before being shot. Surveillance video from a nearby home showed that wasn't the case. In the video, Bennett stands up from the office chair in which he was sitting but doesn't raise the knife or move toward the officers.
In 2014, a Dallas County grand jury indicted Spencer for aggravated assault by a public servant. His guilty plea was to the lesser charge of attempted deadly conduct. As part of the deal, Spencer also turned over his Texas peace officer license, according to court records.

Before the plea, Spencer was set to go on trial in December for shooting Bennett, who received a $1.6 million civil settlement from the city of Dallas in 2015. Spencer is the second Dallas County officer to receive probation this year after pleading guilty to a lesser charge stemming from a shooting. In October, former Garland Police Department officer Patrick Tuter accepted nine months of probation as part of a deal for shooting and killing an unarmed man after a 2013 police chase.
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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

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