Any Dallas officer involved in a police shooting — whether the officer fired a weapon or witnessed the gunfire — will now have the right to remain silent for 72 hours under a new department policy, reports the city’s Morning News. And even before they give a statement about the shooting, the officers can watch any available video before they give a statement. Chief David Brown quietly made major policy change less than a month after surveillance video went public in October that showed an officer shooting a mentally ill man for no apparent reason — contrary to a witnessing officer's account that led to a felony charge against the victim.
Previously an officer who witnessed a shooting typically would have been required to give a statement to police investigators within hours of the event. And the officer who fired, while not required to speak right away, typically did so. The new policy now requires the firing officer to wait at least three days before giving a complete statement to investigators. Brown said the changes “will improve the investigation of our most critical incidents.” But an attorney said the policy will give officers involved in unjustified shootings time to make excuses.