You Have The Duty To Remain Silent . . . : Dallas Police Officers Barred From Making Statements For 72 Hours After Shootings To Review Videotapes and Other Evidence

Chief_Brown_-_Dallas_PDThere is an astonishing story out of Texas where the Dallas Police Chief David Brown quietly changed a rule that would require officers involved in a shooting to wait 72 hours before making a statement. There is no cognizable public interest behind such a rule, but it comes after a scandal where a surveillance video showed one of Brown’s officers shooting a mentally ill suspect for no apparent reason. The video contradicted the officer’s testimony and undermined the charge against the victim. Brown’s solution was not greater disciplining and monitoring of officers but to impose a delay to allow officers to craft their statements.

What is incredible about this story is that the public interest demands the opposite of the rule. Police often rush to get statements at a scene when memories are fresh and evidence is readily available. Detectives often view the first 48 hours as key to investigations. It is important to note that such shootings involve investigations of other individuals beyond the officers. Yet, Brown has imposed a rule that would deny such information to investigators for 72 hours — after police can learn whether there are videotapes or witnesses that might contradict them.

Brown insisted that “it is my belief that this decision will improve the investigation of our most critical incidents.” How? An officer can always amend a statement. Indeed, the police department can formally require a second interview after 72 hours to guarantee that any delayed memories have not arisen in the aftermath (and coverage) of a shooting. Instead, the new policy says that officers will be allowed to watch any available videos before giving their statements and that they must wait three days before making a statement.

BOBBY_BENNETT_33782398The rule seems to combat false police accounts but helping officers craft accounts to fit the evidence. Take the case of Officer Cardan Spencer . Spencer has been charged after he shot Bobby Bennett, 52, (shown right). Spencer claimed he fired because Bennett, who was outside his home, lunged at him with a knife. His partner Christopher Watson supported his account in his statement after the shooting. However, a videotape showed that Bennett had not lunged at the officers. Nevertheless, both said that he did and Bennett was charged with a felony, which was later dropped.

After the videotape showed both officers had given false statements, Watson modified his statement. He appears to be the model for Brown’s new policy. While Brown insists that officers need time to reflect on such traumatic moments, it seems to be a policy designed to protect officers from being caught in a lie. Why not use the same rule for citizens and suspend all interviews of key players for three days? Notably, the Supreme Court recently ruled that silence can be used against a citizen at trial who does not answer questions of the police. So a citizen can have their silence used against them at court but the officer is not just allowed but required to remain silent after shooting a citizen.

Watson has not been charged with his earlier false statement. Other officers will not be put into such a dilemma. Rather than give an contemporaneous account at the scene, they will now be able to craft their answers after confirming whether they can be contradicted. That should solve any further controversies.

The only thing more astonishing than this transparent policy is that fact that Brown has not been immediately fired for suggesting it.

Kudos: Steve Katinsky

37 thoughts on “You Have The Duty To Remain Silent . . . : Dallas Police Officers Barred From Making Statements For 72 Hours After Shootings To Review Videotapes and Other Evidence”

  1. Talk about officials who commit scams that ruin other people’s lives, politicians should be required to wear audio and video surveillance cameras 24/7 to capture all the bribery and threats that make up their daily lives.

  2. Mike Spindell 1, December 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

    “Police State America.

    Not hyperbole. Fact.”

    I agree with Felix.


    So do I.

  3. The militarization of America’s municipal police forces continues, now including the default military response to clusterphuks of circling the wagons, controlling the information, and crafting only favorable messages for public consumption. And it’s all paid for by us, the taxpayers for whom they work.

  4. oops,

    But, Dallas Police Chief clown David Brown does look so pretty in his “official” policeman costume.

  5. The only thing more astonishing than this transparent policy is that fact that Brown has not been immediately fired for suggesting it.

    But, Dallas PoliceChief clown David Brown does look so pretty in his “official” policeman costume.

  6. In the america of my youth.. the 50’s,
    You were innocent until proven guilty.
    Then, a few decades ago,
    You were guilty until proven innocent.
    Now, in the last days of the republic,
    You are guilty, until proven guilty..

    As Sheriff Joe once said.. of course they’re guilty,
    They’re all under arrest.

  7. One rule for the police; another for the rest of us. No wonder people do not and should not trust or respect the police.

  8. Smiling,

    It still happens…. But not nearly as often as when the former ( FBI 2nd or 3rd in command) Henry Wade the ruler of Dallas…. Where… Witness disappear if it didn’t fit his needs…. Or charges not brought if you have enough of a connection…..

  9. Cop shoots 95 year old nursing home inmate with a taser and a shotgun. Old guy dies. He wouldn’t take his medicine and the nursing home had called the police. Chief arrives. He barks his order: ” You have the Duty to remain silent. Anything you say will not be used against you in a court of law or in the court of public opinion.”

    A Duty, not a right. A choose not an echo.

  10. It is my understanding that the officers have always had the opportunity to review the video before statements are written… The officers involved in this shooting were chastised by the chief for not going through the video before making statements…. They wrote the report…. And stood by it knowing it would stand… After all… We are cops…. We are the law…. We can do no wrong…..

    In reality…. It was a neighbors security camera that forced this action by the city….. Cops are learning that cameras are everywhere…. As a matter of fact…. In a police department south of Dallas… I think Duncanville…. The officers all have lapel cams… And the video is stored off site in a cloud….the officers cannot change or destroy the video…. I wonder if they have this technology since this is the home of the Texas AG…… Or close to there….

  11. This rule must be opposed before it becomes so popular with police departments, police unions and other constituencies, that entities such as ALEC or others that represent forces antithetical to the public good start advocating and propagating cookie cutter rules in towns, cities and states through their insidious networks.

  12. If only police abuse & corruption was the exception and not the rule….and it’s getting worse…

    The sad part is that the people in charge are helping to cover up abuses!!

  13. Will civilian suspects be granted the same 72 hour right to review tapes and talk to witnesses before giving a statement or being interrogated by the police? Of course not because they are guilty once the police decide they are. Police officers on the other hand are always right even when they are not. We are all at risk.

  14. How else can cops shoot down the John Wrana’s of the world and slip off the hook but to coordinate their whitewash early and completely.

  15. Reblogged this on and commented:
    They generally want cops to talk without thinking, so the municipality can step away from indemnification litigations. By declaring an immediate statement as excessive force and non-authorized, though under Mantle of Law, the municipality steps aside and covers absolutely nothing. If anything, maybe, a minor negligence suit in civil court must be answered and settled out of court.

Comments are closed.