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Thu October 24, 2013
UPDATE: Dallas Police Fires Officer Who Shot Unarmed Mentally Ill Man
Update, 4:56 p.m. Thursday: The Dallas police officer who shot a mentally ill man in a disputed incident caught on tape has been fired, the department announced this afternoon.
Cardan Spencer faced a disciplinary hearing Thursday morning. He has also been charged with aggravated assault.
“Officers are not above the law,” Chief David Brown said at a press conference. “We as a police department are not going to look the other way. We’re not going to sweep officer misconduct under the rug. Officers’ actions must be reasonable and necessary.”
Spencer wrote in a police report that 52-year-old Bobby Gerald Bennett threatened him and another officer with a knife last week when Spencer fired his gun at him. But video captured by a neighbor's camera shows Bennett didn't appear to move toward the officers at all until he crumpled to the ground from a gunshot.
Bennett's mother, Joyce Jackson, says her son suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Following an outcry after the video was publicized, Spencer was placed on indefinite administrative leave.
Dallas police are taking Spencer's aggravated assault charges to a grand jury.
Brown issued an apology Thursday:
“I want to personally and professionally apologize to Mr. Bennett and the Bennett family for the actions of officers Spencer and [Christopher] Watson,” Brown said.
Watson didn’t fire his gun, but Brown said Thursday that he has asked for a supplemental investigation regarding Watson, who made statements that contradict what was captured in the video.
Brown says firing Spencer was not easy, but necessary.
"This is his career," Brown said. "This is potentially his freedom, depending upon the adjudication process in the court system. This officer has a family. These are not easy decisions.”
George Milner, the attorney for the Bennett family, said Brown had no choice but to fire Spencer based on the video of the shooting.
"What happened 10 days ago should never have happened,” Milner told media.
Milner says he's troubled that one or more officers lied about what happened on an arrest affidavit for Bennett.
Charges of attempted assault of a police officer have been dropped against Bennett.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings released a statement expressing support for Brown's investigation of the incident: “I support our police force and believe Dallas has one of the best departments in the country. We must keep it pure of any perceptions of wrongdoing, and that’s exactly what Chief Brown has done by handling this investigation thoroughly and expediently.”
Dallas police announced Spencer's termination via Twitter:
PO Cardan Spencer was terminated for violating the Department's Deadly Force Policy and Patrol SOP regarding Mentally Ill Persons.
— Dallas Police Depart (@DallasPD) October 24, 2013
Here's the surveillance video:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.