On Monday, a Dallas policeman shot 52-year-old Bobby Gerald Bennett in his driveway. Friends of Bennett say Officer Cardan Spencer shot him for no apparent reason.
The incident was caught on a neighbor’s surveillance camera:
Bennett was sitting on a swivel chair, rolling back and forth, when officers came up to him. Bennett then stood up, after which Spencer shot the mentally ill man in the abdomen four times.
Now Bennett is in the hospital recovering from his injuries.
Bennett’s neighbor and mother claim Officer Spencer had no reason to shoot.
Joyce Jackson, Bennett’s mother, said, “It’s heartbreaking. It’s not right. My son did not do anything to those police officers. This is not right what they did.”
But, as always, there are two sides to this story.
A police report states that Bennett walked toward Spencer and his partner with a “knife raised in an aggressive manner.”
Spencer’s lawyer, Robert Rogers, said, “The facts and circumstances known to Officer Spencer at the time completely justify his actions. Obviously there is much more to this situation than that video.”
It is legal for officers to shoot a civilian who comes at the with a knife. However, Bennett does not appear to come towards the officers in the video.
According to Jackson, she and her son had gotten in an argument earlier that day. Bennett was sitting outside to calm down and smoke a cigarette. Jackson called 911 because she was worried about Bennett, who has spent 20 years in and out of prison — he also has schizophrenia and is bipolar.
As of right now, the incident is in the “very early stages” of investigation, said Police Chief David Brown. Spencer is currently on indefinite leave.
Maurice Bunch, Bennett’s neighbor, was outside watching as the shooting occurred (it was his surveillance camera that captured the incident). He said he saw no knife in Bennett’s hand.
Bunch said, “They were coming at him and he just scooted his chair back. He stood up. At that point, they drew their weapons and said, ‘Freeze.’ They may have said ‘Drop the knife.’ They just waited for about four or five seconds and they just opened fire on him… They were trying to kill him.”
Jackson is incredibly disturbed by the incident. Making matters worse, she was initially not allowed to visit her son in the hospital. According to Jackson, Dallas officers told her, “You don’t need to be here. You son is under arrest for trying to hurt police officers.”
Although Jackson is thankful that her son is alive, she now wants Spencer to be punished for his actions.
Given the evidence, which includes both sides of the story and surveillance footage, do you think this is a case of police brutality?