Arlington police killed motorist for ‘no lawful reason,’ family’s lawsuit says

The family of a 23-year-old man who was shot during a traffic stop and pronounced dead at the hospital has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court seeking damages from the city of Arlington.

About two years ago, Tavis Crane, his daughter and several passengers were stopped in the 1700 block of Spring Lake Drive by Elise Bowden, an Arlington officer, who later noticed the driver had warrants out for his arrest, according to Arlington police.

Bowden called for backup and two additional units responded.

When the officers approached Crane to arrest him, he refused to comply and put his car in reverse, hitting Bowden and slamming into her patrol car, police said. To get the suspect to stop, one of the backup officers got into Crane’s car from the rear passenger door and shot him, according to a police report.

As Crane pulled forward, he again ran over the female officer who was on the ground, as he tried to flee. His car pulled ahead and came to a stop after rounding a curve at the end of the road, police said.

The lawsuit, filed in January, recounts a different set of facts, however, saying that Craig Roper, an Arlington police officer named as a party in the lawsuit, jumped in the back seat of the vehicle with his weapon drawn and shot Crane as he tried to turn off the vehicle’s ignition.

The vehicle did not go into reverse until after Roper shot Crane, according to the lawsuit.

“Once Roper shot Crane for no lawful reason, Crane was no longer in control of the vehicle, did not have the ability to operate the vehicle nor would he have been aware that Bowden was walking behind the vehicle,” the lawsuit states.

“The officer hit the gear shift after Crane was shot,” said Daryl Washington, the attorney representing the family. “You can hear the gunshot before the car moves. Clearly, the officer caused this. He should have never jumped in the back seat.”

Roper’s moving the gear shift caused the vehicle to go in reverse, Washington said. As the car rolled forward, Roper shot Crane a second time, the lawsuit states.

Washington said there was never probable cause to stop Crane’s car, a white 2005 Ford Crown Victoria, in the first place.

Officers tried to help the suspect before he was taken to Arlington Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:31 a.m., according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s website.

Two other adults and a toddler in the suspect’s car were not injured in the incident. Bowden recovered from her injuries after being treated at John Peter Smith Hospital for several broken bones.

Bowden was hired on in 2002 and retired on December 31, 2018, while Roper was hired in 2015 and is assigned to the South Patrol District, according to the Arlington Police Department.

In addition to recovering damages for the family, the lawsuit seeks to recover damages for the two adult witnesses for mental anguish and severe emotional distress from being in the line of fire during the shooting, according to the lawsuit.

Crane had been arrested several times since 2011 for a variety of offenses ranging from marijuana possession to aggravated assault, records show.

At the time of the shooting, he had a felony warrant in Dallas County for a probation violation for evading arrest and multiple misdemeanor warrants out of Grand Prairie, police said.

This story includes information from Star-Telegram archives

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