Mobile County grand jury determines officers not criminally liable for death of Jawan Dallas
Jawan “Jay” Dallas, 36, died on July 2 after a police officer twice stunned him with a Taser gun at Planation Mobile Home Park off of Carol Plantation Road. Police Chief Paul Prine said shortly after the incident that officers were investigating a report of an attempted break-in at the trailer park and that Dallas started a physical altercation and grabbed for the officer’s Taser.
Dallas’ death sparked loud and ongoing complaints about police conduct, the city’s policy on police body cameras and other issues.
But Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood said during a news conference Thursday that the grand jury determined after a “thorough investigation” that the officers were not criminally responsible.
“In layman’s terms, Mr. Dallas suffered from some serious underlying medical issues,” he said. “Those issues were exacerbated by drug use. There were multiple drugs in Mr. Dallas’ system. And then when Mr. Dallas initiated the struggle with police, that situation also exacerbated the underlying medical conditions.”
A representative of the Dallas family legal team told FOX10 News that the lawyers had not reviewed the grand jury findings and that it would be inappropriate to comment. A representative of the family said that man’s mother, Christine Dallas, was not prepared to speak publicly Thursday.
The grand jury’s determination is not sitting well with Robert Clopton, president of the Mobile County branch of the NAACP. He said there are still unanswered questions.
“We are disappointed,” he told FOX10 News. “We’re disappointed due to the fact that we feel that it was an injustice perpetrated upon this young man, and that his death was in vain.”
Blackwood said the medical examiner’s findings indicated that the two shots one of the officers delivered with his Taser gun did not contribute to Dallas’ death.
The district attorney said the grand jury reviewed the autopsy report, a toxicology examination, 911 calls and heard from four witnesses – although, he declined to say whether the officers testified.
A key witness, Blackwood said, was a woman who was with Dallas much of the day on July 2 and hid under one of the trailers when police arrived.
“She told authorities that she was in that vehicle with Jawan Dallas prior to the contact,” he said. “She told authorities about activities, selling drugs that Jawan Dallas was partaking in. She partook in drugs with Jawan Dallas. And she gave us a tremendous amount of information.”
For months, Dallas’ family has demanded to see the police body camera footage of the confrontation with the officers. The city has refused, citing the grand jury investigation. Now that that investigation is over, Blackwood said that video will be made available to the family. He said he had a “cordial” conversation Thursday with Christine Dallas.
Full video of District Attorney Keith Blackwood’s news conference:
City spokesman Jason Johnson said police were coordinating with Christine Dallas about when the family could watch the video. He said that likely would occur early next week. The family of Dallas has called for a Justice Department investigation and the release of police body camera footage in the matter.
According to the official account, police chased Dallas after he ran when officers responded to a burglary compliant. They have said an officer used the Taser a second time after the first attempt had no impact. Police contend Dallas then tried to grab the device.
The manager of the mobile home park and other residents have disputed that version of event, however. And the couple who initially called police described what they saw as a beating. Harry Daniels, an attorney hired by the Dallas family, has said Dallas was almost 200 yards away from the mobile home that police were responding to and was not among three people who were running.
Officials said synthetic cannabinoids and amphetamine were found in Dallas’ system and that exacerbated his underlying medical conditions. They said that this struggle with police exacerbated that further.
Although the Dallas family will get to see the body cam footage, the public likely will not. Blackwood said that under Alabama law, body camera footage is not a public record.
Here is Blackwood’s statement:
Updated at 11:57 a.m. with additional details from the news conference.
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