DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Sparks flew as family members of a suspect shot and killed by a Dallas police officer confronted Chief David Brown in a town hall meeting Saturday morning.
âI donât understand why police get away with what they do,â said one woman, who identified herself as a cousin of James Harper.
Last month, an officer responding to a reported kidnapping shot and killed Harper in his South Dallas neighborhood, after the convicted drug dealer reportedly fought with him.
The killing prompted a large gathering and outpouring of emotion at the shooting scene.
Saturdayâs town hall meeting, called by State Representative Eric Johnson, was intended to address the recent increase in police involved shootings.
âWhen someone dies, thereâs a lack of trust, lack of trust in the police. Thatâs obvious,â said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, opening the meeting.
A panel of speakers, including the police chief, city attorney, a local business owner, crime watch leader, and student, answered questions on community attitudes toward police and ongoing efforts to improve relationships with the department.
Harperâs family, however, criticized the panel.
âThis board does not represent south Dallas,â said Tabitha Harper, another cousin of James Harper, to a scattering of applause.
When Chief Brown tried to answer a question about whether shootings were racially motivated, activists interrupted, rolling out records they claimed showed 93 percent of suspects were minorities.
âShow some respect. Iâm not gonna let you shout down the panel,â said Johnson.
âI try not to get too frustrated about it because itâs part of the venting process,â said Chief Brown, about the emotional outbursts.
Brown said the criticism, while sometimes difficult to hear, have helped him shape policies in the department, including a decision in the wake of Harperâs shooting to request the FBIâs Office of Civil Rights to independently review all officer shootings.
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