Dallas police defend use of deadly force after fourth August shooting
For the second time this month, Dallas police officers have been involved in back-to-back shootings with suspects. Three of the incidents have been deadly; victims in the fourth altercation are currently in critical condition.
Unlike the previous pair of police shootings, the recent incidents involved suspects armed with guns. The news comes on the heels of Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins' August 15 announcement to create a special investigative unit for all police shootings.
The latest incident occurred August 21 in the 4700 block of Veterans Drive, near the Dallas VA Medical Center. An off-duty officer happened to be in the area around 7 pm when he saw a man pull up beside woman at an intersection and open fire. According to police, the suspect then engaged the officer, who shot him. Both the man and the woman suffered critical injuries.
Unlike the previous pair of police shootings, the recent altercations involved suspects armed with guns.
Another police shooting took place just before midnight August 20 in the parking lot of the Grand Hotel in Far North Dallas. Terrence Groessel, 52, was parked in a blue Chevrolet truck when officers in a marked squad car pulled up behind him.
Speaking to the media on August 21, Major Jeff Cotner said the area is known for narcotics trafficking and as a location to dump stolen vehicles. Believing the truck was possibly stolen, the officers turned on their lights and approached the suspect, who appeared to point a pistol at them.
"They felt that they were in imminent jeopardy, and they fired their weapons," Cotner said.
The truck's darkly tinted windows were rolled up, and the officer on the driver's side of the vehicle can be seen "jumping backward" when he notices the pistol. A police dash camera and hotel surveillance equipment both recorded video of the exchange.
The officers then retreated to their squad car and called for backup. Less than a minute later, Groessel reportedly shot himself in the head. Upon investigation, police learned that Groessel had a warrant out for his arrest for failing to register as a sex offender.
The preliminary cause of death from the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office is suicide. Groessel also had two gunshot wounds to his shoulder and torso, likely from police fire, but neither wound was fatal.
"When you come to this profession, you come to help individuals. You know that there's a risk associated with this job, and that's just what you sign up for," Cotner said. "We train to have the best possible outcomes in these things. Every police officer in the Dallas Police Department values human life. That's what we do."