No Indictment for Former Dallas Paramedic Who Repeatedly Kicked Mentally Ill Man in 2019

Brad Cox apparently had red marks and swelling on his face from when Kyle Vess attacked him.
Brad Cox apparently had red marks and swelling on his face from when Kyle Vess attacked him. Dallas County Sheriff's Department
Brad Cox, the former Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedic who kicked a mentally ill man several times while he was on the ground, won’t face any charges over the incident.

On Friday, The Dallas Morning News reported that a Dallas County grand jury was considering a felony charge of injury to a disabled person but ultimately declined to indict the former paramedic.

Video released by the Observer and the News last year showed Cox and a man named Kyle Vess get into an altercation after DFR responded to a series of grass fires in West Dallas. Cox is a trained, retired MMA fighter who has competed professionally.

Vess appears in the video to take a swing and throw a piece of PVC pipe at Cox. Both blows seem to miss, but a brief fight follows with the two eventually moving behind a fire truck and out of view of the nearby surveillance camera that captured the incident.

Then, Vess is shown in the video falling to the ground, where Cox kicks him at least nine times. After officers arrived on the scene, Cox continued hovering over Vess.

Vess begins to flail on the ground, and Cox appears to say “Get up again. Get up again.” When Vess starts to sit up, Cox delivers yet another kick to his head. He stands up to confront Cox, who then throws a few more punches before officers with the Dallas Police Department stun Vess, sending him to the ground. Cox has claimed ever since that he was acting in self-defense.

“Cox unquestionably violently assaulted Kyle and used excessive force in doing so." – Sean J. McCaffity, attorney

tweet this
An initial DPD public integrity investigation cleared Cox of any wrongdoing. It wasn’t until media outlets reported on and released footage of the incident that DFR decided to fire Cox. After Cox's termination, DPD reinvestigated Cox and again found no wrongdoing.

Vess’ parents filed public integrity complaints with the DPD and Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot's office. Creuzot would later say he dropped the ball on the complaint, but explained that the statute of limitations on an assault charge over the incident had already expired.

George Milner argued in an October press conference that the former paramedic should be charged with assault to a disabled person. That charge, which carries a five-year statute of limitation, was dismissed by the grand jury on Friday. 

However, a lawsuit filed by Vess’ family against Cox is still pending. The city of Dallas is also named in the suit for not providing adequate training to DFR firefighters and paramedics and for maintaining a de facto policy of covering for its bad apples. In late June, the civil court denied Dallas’ request to have the suit thrown out.

“Because the City and DFR appeared to have successfully covered up Cox’s assault on Kyle until after the statute of limitations expired on a straightforward assault charge, after the investigation was reopened last year the only charge that could be brought with a longer limitations period included assault against a disabled person,” Sean J. McCaffity, Vess’ lawyer in the suit, told the Observer. “We knew that the standard to establish that was going to be more difficult, but a decision to not prosecute has no effect on Kyle’s civil rights claim.”

He added, “Cox unquestionably violently assaulted Kyle and used excessive force in doing so. We look forward to bringing accountability here and justice for Kyle in the civil suit.”

Jim McDade, president of the Dallas Fire Fighters Association, said he wasn’t shocked at all about the grand jury’s decision. “They keep trying over and over again to pin more things on to him and a crime was not committed,” McDade said. “He was defending himself. It’s pretty simple.”

There’s still a possible future for Cox at the department, McDade said, as he’s currently in the process of appealing his firing from DFR. He said, “We hope that in the end the city figures out what he did was wrong and Brad gets his job back.”
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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