Dallas County

Who Shot the Protesters? DA Needs Help Finding Out.

The DA needs to public's help
The DA needs to public's help Jacob Vaughn
The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office says it needs help investigating incidents of potential police misconduct during this summer's protests against police violence that took place after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis cops.

“We have come to a point where we need some assistance from the public,” District Attorney John Creuzot said.

During a news conference in the Central Jury Room at the Frank Crowley Courts Building on Thursday, Creuzot presented a slide show that included photos of people who may have themselves captured images of instances of excessive force used by police. “This is about individuals we need to locate,” Creuzot said. Anyone who witnessed these incidents should come forward even if they are not one of those in the photos Creuzot released Thursday.

The DA’s presentation centered on three incidents during protests in downtown on May 30.

The first occurred around 4 p.m. on the corner of South Ervay and Wood streets near the public library involving 26-year-old protester Brandon Saenz. He was shot in the eye with a foam bullet that shattered bones, robbed him of sight in his left eye and knocked out seven teeth. Creuzot wants to know who shot him.

“We’re interested in seeing any video showing the person, the police officer, who fired that projectile that hit Mr. Saenz and caused him to lose his eye," Creuzot said.

The second happened just about four and a half hours later near the entrance ramp to Interstate 35 at  Commerce Street during which a woman was shot by a pepper ball launcher. They are interested in any photos or video that captured the officer, Sgt. Roger Rudloff, who fired the pepper ball.

Creuzot said his office didn’t know anything about this incident until a lawsuit was filed. “Why didn’t we know about it? Because none of the people there filed a complaint with [the Dallas Police Department],” he said.

The third occurred around 10:40 p.m. downtown at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Griffin Street. The victim was struck by a less-than-lethal munition and sustained “very serious injuries,” Creuzot said.

He said they are looking into these cases, but their investigations have been stalled because they need more information from witnesses.

In some of the events, there is enough evidence to move forward with a case, Creuzot said, but his office wants to make sure they have all they can get. They would rather be certain than be fast in pursuing these investigations.

“If there are any other incidents that we do not know about because someone didn’t file a complaint, we’re interested in that also.” – Dallas County DA John Creuzot

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The weapons in all of these scenarios, Creuzot said, are often referred to as “less-than-lethal” by law enforcement, though this may not be the most accurate way to describe them given these cases.

A deadly weapon is “anything that can cause protracted loss or the impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ,” he said. “So, even though the police may call their device less-than-lethal, the characteristics of it, especially when you know someone has lost an eye, would fit the definition of a deadly weapon.”

He said the characteristics of these weapons and the damage they inflicted may be the difference between an assault and aggravated assault charge.

The police department has received heavy criticism for its response to the Dallas protests from May 29 to June 1.

Dallas police Chief U. Reneé Hall took a verbal beating from the City Council Public Safety Committee for the department’s handling of the demonstrations.

The department and the Office of Community Police Oversight are investigating 50 complaints of police use of excessive force during the protests, according to DPD’s after-action report on its response to the demonstrations. Additionally, several journalists reported being arrested, detained and shot with less-than-lethal munitions during their coverage of the protests.

Creuzot said he is not aware of other incidents of police misconduct during the demonstrations. “If there are any other incidents that we do not know about because someone didn’t file a complaint, we’re interested in that also.”

Creuzot said anyone who comes forward is not in trouble, and prosecutors are specifically looking into evidence of police misconduct.

To see the images Creuzot wishes to identify, check out the PDF below. Anyone with information can call 214-653-3714 or email [email protected].
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn