The release of a Fort Worth police dash-cam video of an officer-involved shooting was “fully within the letter of the law,” Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson wrote Wednesday in a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Wilson was responding to a complaint filed with Paxton’s office Tuesday by the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas that the release of the video to the victim’s attorney violated state open-records law and that it “has clearly tainted the jury pool” against the police officer.
A video of the shooting — which happened in west Fort Worth in July and left David Brandon Collie, 33, paralyzed from the waist down — was released through an open-records request from Collie’s attorney, who shared the video with media last month.
However, the officer, identified by CLEAT as “H. Barron,” has not been disciplined and his case has not gone before a grand jury.
Wilson’s letter to Paxton says releasing the video was “required by law.”
Wilson acknowledged that one of her staff attorneys did not follow procedure by seeking an attorney general’s opinion before releasing records related to an ongoing investigation.
But at the time of the video’s release, Wilson wrote, her office had not yet received the internal affairs report from the Police Department.
Wilson wrote in her letter that she met with the Fort Worth Police Officers Association this month and explained that the video’s release “did not precisely follow our office procedure.”
“I also suggested that if the internal affairs investigations were completed and referred within three months of each incident that possibility of internal process errors would be reduced,” Wilson wrote.
CLEAT Executive Director Charley Wilkison said the complaint was meant to alert the attorney general’s office with the hopes that the Texas Rangers might investigate.
The attorney general’s office doesn’t have jurisdiction over open-records violations unless the case is referred by a district attorney’s office, agency spokeswoman Kayleigh Lovvorn said Wednesday.
The officer-involved shooting happened July 28 at an apartment complex in the 2700 block of North Normandale Street.
Police were looking for two people involved in a late-night robbery that occurred at a nearby gas station. One of the robbers had displayed a silver handgun during the crime, police said, and then both robbers fled on foot to a nearby apartment complex.
Barron and another officer were in a Fort Worth patrol car working an off-duty assignment and saw someone matching the description of one of the robbers duck behind a row of bushes.
As the officers exited the patrol car, the man began walking away from them and a sheriff’s deputy.
He refused commands to stop and show his hands, one of which was in his pocket, police said. He then removed a silver object from his pocket and pointed it at the deputy, police said. Barron saw the silver object, believed the man was threatening the deputy with a firearm and fired two rounds at Collie, striking him once in the lower torso.
The silver object turned out to be a box cutter, police said.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives