For only the second time in 17 years, a Dallas County grand jury has indicted a police officer for wrongly killing a suspect in the line of duty. Patrick Tuter is being held on an unusually high $100,000 bail after his indictment for manslaughter in the death of 25-year-old Michael Vincent Allen on Aug. 31 of last year.
Prosecutors said they did not consider the fired Garland police officer a threat to flee, and were prepared to let bail go as low as $10,000. But Judge Lena Levario said that in her view, Tuter (pictured) posed a threat to public safety and needed to be locked up. Typical bail in manslaughter cases is about $25,000, the Dallas Morning News reported.
If he makes bail, Tuter is not allowed to hold any job that requires him to use a weapon.
From the facts of the case, Tuter appears not only trigger-happy, but also an inaccurate shot. He is accused of killing Allen, who was unarmed, after a half-hour chase during which speeds hit 100 mph along a North Dallas freeway, ending up with Allen cornered in cul-de-sac in Mesquite.
According to one eyewitness to the shooting, Allen’s white GMC pick-up truck was trapped between two cop cars. That’s when Tuter, according to a witness, shouted for Allen to get out of the truck but then, without waiting more than a few seconds, opened fire.
He unloaded 41 rounds, pausing at least once to reload despite taking no return fire from Allen, who was not in possession of a firearm. Three of those shots hit Allen, killing him. But 38 of Tuter’s shots missed their target.
The other officer at the scene fired no shots and actually took cover behind his squad car as Tuter continued to pump bullets at the immobilized pickup truck.
The chase began when Tuter noticed the pickup, which had been involved in a chase in nearby Sachse a few nights before.
Tuter crashed his vehicle into the pickup before firing. Allen, the father of one, died without getting out of the driver’s seat. Originally, police claimed that Allen rammed Tuter’s vehicle. But dashboard cam video showed that the reverse was actually the case.
“More and more, we’re learning that the account given by the police officer is not what actually occurred,” said Don Tittle, a lawyer who represents Allen’s family in a civil suit against Tuter for wrongful death. “That should be pretty alarming. It should certainly cause you to wonder in cases where there’s no video at all.”
Tuter faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the manslaughter charge.