In two unrelated incidents, two Dallas police officers shot and wounded residents. This week, both officers’ initial accounts of the events were contradicted by video evidence.
Both Cardan Spencer and Amy Wilburn were fired from the Dallas police force shortly after each incident occurred.
Now, Spencer and Wilburn have both been charged with aggravated assault by a public servant.
In October, Spencer shot 52-year-old Bobby Bennett, who was standing only feet away from him. Bennett’s mother has stated that her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder last year, and that he was not on medication at the time of the shooting.
The initial case report filed after the incident claimed that Bennett lunged at Spencer with a knife.
While a neighbor’s surveillance video camera indicated that Bennett was indeed standing only a few feet away from Spencer, the video contradicted Spencer’s report that Bennett had come at him with a knife. Instead, it appeared that Bennett did not move towards the officer at all.
The video also shows Bennett crumpling to the ground as gunfire hits him. Bennett spent several weeks in the hospital after the incident.
Former officer Amy Wilburn was also indicted last week for shooting a 19-year-old suspected carjacker.
As a solution to the discrepancies between officer accounts, witness accounts, and the reality of what transpired in each incident, Police Chief David Brown has suggested an increased use of body cameras.
Police union leader Ron Pinkston, however, has noted that the indictments of Spencer and Wilburn are sending a bad signal to officers facing potentially life-threatening situations.
“The result will be more names on the police memorial wall,” Pinkston said.
He went on to note that the video is just one part of the investigation, and that use of the video alone as evidence can be misleading.
The public, Pinkston noted, “only see[s] the video and they make conclusions off the one piece of evidence.”