Chief: Police returning to Dallas shooting scene overwhelmed




DALLAS (AP) — Several Dallas police officers interviewed in the investigation into the fatal shooting of five officers last month were overwhelmed when they returned to the scene and some could need five years of treatment, Police Chief David Brown said.

Brown told the Dallas City Council that more than 300 witnesses have been interviewed about the July 7 shooting at the conclusion of a peaceful protest march in downtown Dallas. He said he expects the department to be dealing with the trauma of the shooting that took the lives of four Dallas police officers and a Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer for years to come.

But counseling isn't the only aspect Brown said he expected to stretch into the foreseeable future. When asked by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings when the investigation into the shooting would be complete, Brown said he did not want to use a specific timeframe. He said instead that a typical investigation for a single police shooting takes about six months.

With many more officers, many more weapons and the use of a robot-deployed bomb that killed 25-year-old shooter Micah Johnson, the current investigation could stretch much longer.

Several officers interviewed in the investigation had to postpone giving their accounts at first because they were unable emotionally to walk through the scene and explain the events of that night, Brown said.

The chief outlined the investigative process. He said after the police criminal investigation was completed, it would be forwarded to the District Attorney's office, which would decide with the help of a grand jury if the officers' gunfire and use of a bomb was justified.

The police department would then conduct an administrative investigation to determine if the officers complied with the department's use-of-force policies, he said.

Brown has asked that related information be exempted from open records requests until it's complete.

"Once all that is concluded, much of what we have investigated is being subject to open records. But during this time, we ask for an exception to open records until ... we start the administrative investigation," Brown said.

A call to the District Attorney's office asking whether it had begun its portion of the investigation was not returned Tuesday.

Brown said there was a "potential for civil litigation" but gave no indication he was aware of a lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Brown said he has fast-tracked funds to pay for more advanced tactical gear— vests and helmets— to better protect officers in the future. He said the ballistics vests worn by many officers in July didn't stand up to the rifle Johnson used.
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