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Dallas Police Shooting Probe Going To Prosecutors Next Week

Javier Giribet-Vargas
KERA News Special Contributor
Scores of police officers gathered in downtown Dallas on July 7, 2016, following the deadly shooting.

An investigation into the ambush shooting a year ago that killed five Dallas law enforcement officers and injured nine others as well as two civilians will be turned over to the Dallas County District Attorney's office early next week, police officials said Friday.

But it will take longer for details of that investigation to be released to the public because it will go before a grand jury to decide whether there was proper use of force during the incident that culminated in shooter Micah Johnson being killed by an explosives-carrying robot.

Friday marked the first anniversary of the sniper shootings that left five police officers dead.

Officers gathered about 200 shell casings, including 118 casings from the 44-foot hallway in El Centro College between police negotiators and Johnson, said Assistant Chief Randal Blankenbaker. He said investigators reviewed almost 500 files and thousands of hours of camera footage.

Twelve officer-worn body cameras had footage of the "Ground Zero" of the shooting, Blankenbaker said. Investigators reviewed about a dozen other body cameras from officers running to the scene and 22 dashboard cameras. Also reviewed was video from street cameras, surveillance cameras and from college cameras and cell phone videos. In the first 24 hours after the shootings, police made initial interviews with about 240 witnesses.

Any officer who fired his weapon had to have both his or her body camera footage reviewed and turn his weapon in for review, Blankenbaker said.

The slain officers were remembered at a Friday night ceremony outside City Hall. About 200 people listened to reflections from Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and interim Police Chief David Pughes of the night when gunfire shattered a peaceful Black Lives Matter march.

Family members of slain officers sat in chairs in front of the crowd, with officers standing behind them.

Learn more

Click on the audio above to hear KERA's Christopher Connelly talk with Eric Aasen about the status of the investigation. 

Police updated reporters Friday afternoon on the investigation. Among the highlights from the police press conference:

  • Every time police use lethal force, the investigation into the incident is presented to a grand jury, which determines whether the use of lethal force was justified.

  • Police officials say they believe it was the right call to send in a robot with a bomb attached to kill Micah Johnson, the shooter, because they believed more officers, and possibly more civilians, could have been killed if they didn’t end the standoff in that way.

  • Officials described a massive crime scene on July 7. There were hundreds of people to interview, and it took thousands of hours to review several hundred video files from police-worn body cameras, cell phone videos and private surveillance cameras. In addition, there was a lot of physical evidence to process, including shell casings, weapons and even the bodies of the officers who were killed.

  • Interim Dallas Police Chief David Pughes said the department is investing in more heavy body armor, and has begun to manage protests differently since the attacks, including giving officers the choice to wear more tactical gear while working protests. Previously, that was considered to be too militaristic or to appear adversarial.