Two Years After Oak Cliff Police Shooting, Victims' Families Unite in Suing the City

On the evening of October 29, 2010, Matthew Tate and other Dallas police officers were conducting a sweep of the Cedar Garden apartment complex in east Oak Cliff when they came upon Tobias Mackey. According to officers' accounts, Mackey began to reach into his waist band when ordered to show his hands. Fearing he was reaching for a gun, Tate opened fire, killing Mackey and grazing 11-year-old Xavion Collins, who had just returned home from a Halloween carnival and was walking to buy a soda.

A grand jury determined that Tate wasn't criminally liable, but Xavion's mother, Jacqueline Collins, filed a lawsuit against the city in Dallas County district court in October alleging that police had acted improperly. The city denied this in court filings and sought to claim immunity.

Last month, the lawsuit was expanded. Collins was joined in the lawsuit by Mackey's family, and Tate and Police Chief David Brown were added as defendants. According to an amended complaint, the fact that Mackey, an unarmed man standing in an apartment breezeway, was shot nine times shows that Tate acted unreasonably. The suit blames Brown and the city for not being aware of Tate's propensity to harass people in low income neighborhoods and for allowing sweeps that violated citizens' constitutional rights.

The case was also recently moved to federal court, where Brown filed a response last week denying the charges in the lawsuit. Brown "admits that former officer Tate at first had no reason to suspect that Mackey had committed an offense, but that as events unfolded Tate formed at least a reasonable apprehension of danger caused by Mackey." DPD determined that Tate did not violate the department's use-of-force policy.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson