Watchdog Group Files DOJ Complaint Against Dallas Police, Alleging Racial Pattern of Excessive Force

Dallas resident Collette Flanagan holds up a photo of her son, Clinton Allen, who was unarmed when he was shot by Dallas Officer Clark Staller in March 2013, during a public hearing on the impacts of police violence in Dallas, November 7, 2014. (Photo: Candice Bernd)

Candice Bernd

Dallas Communities Organizing for Change (DCOC), a grassroots, Dallas-based police accountability group, has filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division alleging that the Dallas Police Department (DPD) has participated in a pattern and practice of excessive use of force against African-Americans and Hispanics, echoing a national trend.

According to the complaint, between July 2002 and July 2013, there were 185 police shootings reported by the DPD, with 58 resulting in a fatality. African-American and Hispanic fatalities accounted for 43, or 74 percent, of all lethal police shootings. Thirty-six of the 185 police shooting victims were unarmed.

Within that 10-year period, 33 African-Americans were killed, accounting for nearly 57 percent of all fatalities committed by Dallas police officers, a rate more than twice the population density of African-Americans as recorded by the 2010 US Census. An additional 10 Hispanics were killed in police shootings during the same period – a combined rate 48 percent higher than white police shooting fatalities.

“I think Dallas is pretty rife for [federal] intervention, because [the police department] is not listening, and one of the problems we have is, we have leaders who have their ears covered,” said civil rights attorney Shayan Elahi, who is counsel for DCOC.

DCOC submitted an open records request for data on every police shooting from January 1, 1987, to August 11, 2013, and statistically analyzed the (albeit incomplete) responsive data they received from the department in a report released in November 2013. The report provides much of the basis upon which the group’s DOJ complaint is built.

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