FORT WORTH — On Thursday, two years to the day that he nearly died, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Beeson watched a 29-year-old ex-convict receive a life sentence for shooting Beeson in the face and forever altering his life. “I’m relieved,” Beeson said Thursday evening in a telephone interview. “It’s been a long eight days. I’m glad it is done.”
Jurors in state District Judge Elizabeth Berry’s court deliberated much of the day Wednesday and Thursday before convicting Dominick Tutt of attempted capital murder for walking up to Beeson outside an east Fort Worth grocery store, pointing a .38-caliber gun at him and pulling the trigger.
After a short punishment hearing Thursday, Berry gave Tutt the maximum sentence, life in prison. Tutt must serve at least 30 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole.
“I’m happy with the life sentence, given his history and given the fact that he was on federal parole when he shot me,” Beeson said.
“He needs to be off the streets. You can’t go around shooting innocent people, especially cops. Good always has to overcome evil or we would be lost.”
Two years ago
On June 5, 2006, Beeson was sitting on a bench outside the Carnival store in the 4600 block of East Lancaster Avenue, taking a break from his off-duty security job and talking to his wife on his cellphone about his 16-year-old stepdaughter’s grades when he found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.
Beeson, who was wearing his uniform, dropped the phone and reached for his gun, but the gunman fired first. The bullet struck Beeson in the face, shattering his cheekbone.
Moments later, Beeson, then 43, heard another gunshot and felt a bullet go through his buttock.
Beeson pulled his holstered weapon and fired at the man, who fell but got up and ran.
Police later arrested Dominick Tutt after he was dropped off at the same hospital where Beeson was being treated. Tutt had recently been released from a federal prison after serving more than five years on a weapons conviction, officials have said.
Beeson later identified Tutt in a photo lineup as the man who shot him.
Tutt was defended by veteran attorneys Tim Moore and Bill Ray, who contended that Tutt was in the grocery store parking lot when he heard gunshots and was just an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire.
Jurors deliberated over two days before indicating that they had reached a guilty verdict.
“Tutt was ably represented by Tim Moore and Bill Ray but, in the end, the evidence pointed conclusively to his guilt,” said prosecutor Robert Foran, who tried the case with Elizabeth Beach.
“This has had a traumatic impact on Deputy Beeson and his family. He suffered lingering damage, physically and emotionally, from this crime. But one thing that the community and his family can take pride in is that Deputy Beeson displayed the courage that most of us hope we would have in this situation.
“He was wounded in the head and thinking he could die, yet he was alert enough to take precautions to preserve the citizens’ safety and the crime scene, which would eventually lead to the capture of Dominick Tutt.”
Beeson todayBeeson, a 16-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, is back working county courthouse security. He has had several surgeries, including to remove part of his cheekbone and a small piece of his lower jaw, and there are more in his future. He has migraines and, at times, the pain is unbearable, he said.
Beeson has received the Star of Texas award for wounded first responders and several other accolades. He said some have called him a hero, but he wants to be a hero only to his wife and 18-year-old stepdaughter, whom he will adopt soon, he said.
“I was placed in the situation and did the best I could,” Beeson said.
Beeson still wonders why Tutt walked up to him and shot him that day.
“He was so calm and cool that night,” Beeson said. “He tried to execute me, that is the way I felt. He has never told anyone why he did that. That has always been a big mystery. ”
And Beeson still wonders sometimes why he is alive. The shooting is never far from his mind.
“I would be lying if I said that I didn’t think about it every day,” Beeson said. “I still can’t believe it happened to me. It is so surreal.”