Dallas Police Drop Aggravated Assault Charges Against the Mentally Ill Rylie Man They Shot

Dallas Police Chief David Brown announced this afternoon he has ordered aggravated assault charges against 52-year-old Bobby Gerald Bennett to be dropped.

Bennett is the mentally ill man shot on Monday by Dallas police officer Cardan Spencer. In an affidavit, DPD said that Bennett had approached officers with his knife raised in an aggressive manner, but footage from a neighbor's surveillance camera contradicted that account.

It would also seem to call into question the initial DPD press release, which said Bennett was "acting violent and had made statements that he wanted officers to shoot him." That explanation happens to be nearly identical to the explanation given the last time Spencer shot at a suspect.

According to a 2009 report in The Dallas Morning News, Spencer was one of 15 police officers who opened fire on a 19-year-old robbery suspect named Dontell Mitch Terrell.

Terrell, accused of robbing a Papa Johns, reportedly lead police on a chase but gave up as about 30 officers surrounded him. Police officers said that he had been holding a gun to his head while talking to his mother. They said they didn't shoot until he lowered the gun to point it at the officers.

"Apparently he wanted to kill himself," Dallas police spokesman Warren Mitchell told the DMN at the time. "He was telling his mom over the telephone that he wanted to kill himself. He didn't want to go back to the penitentiary and stuff like that. So it very well could be death by a cop, suicide."

A separate 2009 report about Terrell's death by CBS says that all 13 of the Dallas Police Department Officers involved with the shooting were placed on administrative leave. (The two other police officers involved were with the Mesquite Police Department).

Terrell's mother spoke to CBS at the time and recounted her final conversation with her son. She also portrayed him as suicidal in his final moments, because it appeared as though he would have to go back to jail. "They told him if he breaks probation, they're gonna give me 99 years and he said, I can't do 99 years. He said, before I do 99, I'll kill myself."

She added: "He was telling me he loved me and all of a sudden the phone went dead because of all the shooting."

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Amy Martyn
Contact: Amy Martyn