Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot has launched an investigation into police treatment of protesters during demonstrations in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, The Dallas Morning News reported yesterday. The DA's office reached out to demonstrators involved in the protests, as well as their lawyers ahead of the investigation, according to the newspaper.
But, it could still be a while before the DA’s office can dig deep into its investigation. Creuzot is asking the Dallas Police Department to first conduct an inquiry into wrongful arrest and excessive force allegations stemming from the protests.
The 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 for the department’s handling of the protests during a special called City Council Public Safety Committee meeting last month.
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 their response to the demonstrations.
On Aug. 27, Central Track published audio from May 31 of Hall on police radio telling officers to "snatch 'em up," referring to the protesters in Dallas.
Shenita Cleveland, a business owner and community leader who is running for Congress, was one of several protesters arrested by DPD in downtown on May 31.
Cleveland has an excessive force complaint that's being investigated by the police internal affairs unit that was also sent to the police oversight board.
“DPD did no talking, only shooting — both rubber bullets and pepper balls — and gassing us,” Cleveland says. “We were the only group arrested for violation of the emergency management plan and booked into Lew Sterrett for a day some more.”
She says being detained by DPD in cuffs for about seven hours on a Class C ticket was excessive. “And so was sending us to a rat hole jail that needs plenty improvement,” she says.
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Cleveland was out the next day, speaking to protesters outside of the Frank Crowley Courthouse about her experience.
Just hours later, about 670 protesters ended up on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Before detaining them, law enforcement officers shot pepper balls, rubber bullets, and tear gas and smoke canisters at the protesters, injuring several.
DPD did not reply to a request for comment.
In the immediate aftermath of the protests, Hall defended her officers' actions, but she has since said the department made mistakes in its response to the protests, which were prompted by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis during an arrest.