Not Above The Law
Dallas police chief David Brown fired six officers on Tuesday and suspended one more in a sweeping act of department discipline. All of the terminated officers allegedly engaged in unethical behavior and many stand accused of committing crimes themselves.
The most serious case involves officers Bryan Burgess and Michael Puckett. In April, the officers were following a suspicious person on bicycle in the 1600 block of Martin Luther King Boulevard. Puckett got out of the squad car to pursue the man on foot while Burgess continued driving.
How the bicyclist died is a matter of dispute. Burgess originally said the rider cut in front of his vehicle, but a recording from the scene of the crime paints a different picture. Burgess is accused of running over the bicyclist, repositioning his body and moving his squad car before investigators arrived. Both officers were fired, and Burgess faces charges of negligent homicide.
Officer Bryan Burgess is accused of moving a body at a crime scene and lying about it.
Another pair of firings took place in the Family Violence Unit. An internal affairs investigation revealed that between 2009 and 2011, Senior Corporal Shawn Wash failed to investigate 148 cases of domestic violence and entered false information in a report. In the same time period, Senior Corporal Durman Johnson reportedly failed to investigate 105 cases and entered false information on a report. Johnson allegedly filed an arrest warrant on the wrong person in a 2012 assault case.
In other unrelated although nonetheless egregious offenses, Officer Edward Antunez was fired after being charged with sexual assault in Mesquite. Crime scene analyst Cindy Kelly was fired after a background check revealed she had been arrested in Ellis County for misapplication of fiduciary property — a felony. The arrest occurred three months after Kelly began working for the police department.
Officer Andrew Clennell has been suspended for 30 days after flashing his badge and gun during a bar fight in Fort Worth. Clennell, who was on administrative leave at the time of the incident, also allegedly gave conflicting statements to police about the fight.
At a press conference hours after the firings, police chief David Brown said it was obviously not a great day for the department. "It is my hope the public understands that 99 percent of officers do what they are asked to do," Brown said.