For a brief moment Tuesday evening, it seemed that the Dallas Police Department had learned something from the case of Bobby Gerald Bennett, in which an officer, unprovoked, shot a mentally ill man in a Rylie cul-de-sac. Rather than waiting for a damning video to emerge showing that Monday afternoon's shooting of suspected carjacker Kelvion Walker was shadier than first reported, they notified the media in an email.
"An independent civilian witness observed the shooting and was brought to Police Headquarters to provide a statement," they wrote. "The witness reported Walker was reclined in the front passenger seat and appeared to be holding both hands up at the time of the shooting."
When, a couple of hours later, The Dallas Morning News published its story on the shooting, complete with a videotaped interview with the eyewitness, it became clear that DPD's revelation was prompted not by a newfound spirit of openness but by potentially embarrassing inquiries from reporters.
In its initial statement on the shooting, released on Monday, police described spotting a carjacked vehicle in the 3600 block of St. Augustine Road. As they were trying to perform a traffic stop, the two men inside the car began to flee. An unnamed officer "engaged one of the suspects exiting the passenger side which led to the officer firing their weapon at the suspect."
The revised account released by DPD on Tuesday describes the incident in greater detail. A 2005 Chevy Malibu, stolen about an hour before from a nearby gas station, was tracked to the 9500 block of Military Parkway using GPS data. Undercover officers set up surveillance on the vehicle. When they spotted two men get into the vehicle and drive away, they radioed to uniformed patrol officers.
Officers Amy Wilburn and Jason Correa responded in separate squad cars. Wilburn activated her overhead flashers and followed as the Malibu sped up, then pulled into the St. Augustine Town Homes. As the vehicle slowed to a crawl in the parking lot of the complex, the driver bailed.
Wilburn caught up with the idling car on foot to put on the brakes, unaware that Walker, 19, was in the passenger seat.
"Officer Wilburn perceived Walker to be an imminent threat, drew her weapon and discharged it once striking him," according to DPD's release.
Scottie Smith II, a real estate agent who manages the St. Augustine Town Homes property, saw Wilburn fire the shots.
"I don't condone these two young men stealing this car," he said in his interview with the Morning News. "I surely don't condone these two young men driving into my complex and giving my complex this negative publicity.
"But I do not condone an officer shooting a man with his hands up in the air."
Wilburn, a 12-year veteran of the force, has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. Walker was taken to Baylor in critical condition. Police say they are reviewing dash-cam footage as part of an ongoing investigation.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.
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