Killer cops prompt Dallas residents to protest

Jonathan Gibby / Getty Images / AFP
A South Dallas police officer chased and fatally shot an unarmed man on Tuesday, angering a crowd of several hundred local residents who gathered in protest of the incident.

At around 5 pm, Officer Brian Rowden shot James Harper, 31, during a fight in which Harper was trying to escape.

Three officers had arrived at the scene in response to a fake 911 call, in which the caller said a man had been kidnapped and taken to the house. Police now suspect that a drug gang made the call to expose their rival’s drug house, said Dallas Police Chief David Brown in a press conference

“I don’t doubt that this was bogus and that this was some rivalry, and that we got in the middle of it – being drawn in through this bogus reasoning,” he said.“This 911 call doesn’t make sense, the way it came out.

After arriving at the scene and finding crack cocaine inside and around the home, police pursued four people who tried to escape – among them Harper.

After being chased down an alley and hopping three fences, Harper allegedly fought the police officer who pursued him, telling Harper, “you’re going to have to kill me.”

After the third first fight, Rowden took out his gun and shot Harper. The officer claimed he shot Harper in fear of his own life. He said he was exhausted and losing the fight – but Rowden did not require hospitalization.

Angry crowds gathering at the scene of the shooting believed that the victim was shot in the back – indicating the victim was running away. But Brown claims the officer shot Harper in the stomach and the hand, which designates a fight. Medical examiners have not yet determined where the man was shot.

Just one hour after the shooting, several hundred people had gathered at the scene to protest the victim’s death, gathering behind the police caution tape. Family members cried and screamed at the police. More than 150 officers had lined the area in full riot gear.

Harper’s mother stood in the crowd, yelling that her son had been shot in the back.

“They could have just winged him, Lord, but they killed him,” Sandra Harper, the victim’s mother, told NBC News five minutes after she found out about her child’s death. “I ain’t got no son no more.”

As protesters gathered, some streets remained blocked for most of the night, and Dallas police officers are continuing to patrol the neighborhood.

ABC News reports that this case is likely to go to a grand jury.

Statistics from 2005 show that police kill an average 365 persons a year in the United States, 17 percent of which are unarmed, according to the book, Introduction to Policing.

But in some regions in the US, the number is significantly higher. In 2011, almost one third of police shooting victims were unarmed, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Unjustified shootings by police often stir up angry crowds who demand justice. In California citizens of the town of Anaheim have been rioting for four days after local police shot two men and attacked those protesting the killings. In South Dallas, tensions between police and neighborhood residents are high as they wait from the medical examiner’s autopsy report.