In Texas, Garland Officer Patrick Tuter reportedly fired 41 rounds at an unarmed man last month after a collision with the truck of Michael Vincent Allen (shown left). Now it appears that a dash-cam video contradicts what the police department first said in the case. Moreover, a witness has charged that police officers confiscated his phone and erased a video and pictures of the scene.
The confrontation occurred around midnight on August 31st after Tuter identified the white GMC pickup as the one involved in a prior chase with police. Joined by Dallas County sheriff’s deputies, Tuter pursued the truck for 30 minutes at speeds up to 100 mph and finally caught up to Allen in a cul-de-sac. Police claimed Allen collided with Tuter but the opposite appears true. Allen died with gunshot wounds and dog bites from a police dog.
Yet, Tuter’s attorney, John Snider, insists that the new information does not change the justification for force: “At some point, while trying to prevent the suspect from making an escape, Officer Tuter did feel in fear for his life and was justified in firing his weapon.”
Tuter’s 41 rounds, however, means that he had to reload and resume firing. No gun was found on Allen.
Allen was no angel to be sure, He had a long criminal record of arrests. However, the justification of not just the use of lethal force but the number of bullets has raised questions over the police response. There has long been a controversy over the use of semi-automatic weapons with large clips of ammunition. Critics charge that officers now fire more rounds and sometimes endanger both bystanders and fellow officers — as suggested in the recent shooting of pedestrians by police in New York.
One witness says that he took cellphone pictures and video of the scene but police confiscated the phone and deleted the video and pictures. The phone was returned four days later without the photos.
We have been discussing the trend of officers arresting citizens who film them in public. The alleged destruction of these photos raises obviously serious concerns over the destruction of evidence to protect a fellow officer. There also remains the question if it was Tuter who gave the false account of Allen hitting his car.
Tuter is reportedly on suspension. Yet, these allegations raise questions about his fellow officers, particularly with the destruction of the witness’ photos.
Source: Dallas News